Title: “Live At Cadogan Hall” [DVD]
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 3/39/2011
Genre: Acoustic Rock
I recently absorbed the new live CD release from Progressive Rock’s own Marillion entitled “Live At Cadogan Hall” and as luck would have it, there is a companion DVD of this very show to enjoy as well and since I’ve said my piece on the audio only version it’s now the videos turn for a little scrutiny. If you missed those words somehow and are one of those fans of Marillion who has been with them from the beginning, I essentially outlined my own personal confusion with what they are doing musically every now and again. I cited loving “Marbles” but hating its follow up “Somewhere Else” and then finding absolute disinterest in their acoustic offering “Less Is More”. Of course on the same token, the live DVD for “Somewhere Else” totally impressed me and found me appreciating the studio effort a little more. That being said, this film finds us joining the band on the final night of their 2009 “Less Is More” tour where they perform for a packed house at London’s Cadogan Hall. The film is presented in exactly the same fashion as its audio counterpart which I appreciated and that means it’s broken into two sets and discs. The songs are delivered in the same manner and in a slightly Dream Theater method the guys perform “Less Is More” from beginning to end with the exception of the original albums closer “Cannibal Surf Babe”. The audience seems hypnotized as Hogarth entertains with his rich and powerful vocal register and amuses all with his skills on dulcimer. As noted on the CD version review and as we found on the studio album, the band employed a number of instruments that they didn’t normally use on a release for this one. I found hearing them play vibraphone and xylophone along with acoustic guitars and pianos to be quite the treat. Speaking on a musical level, it is without question that guitarist Steve Rothery, bassist Pete Trewavas, keyboardist Mark Kelly and Drummer Ian Mosely are superb musicians and their tightness and understanding of each others capability is almost visible during the show. I guess this comes from their working together for over 20 years at this point in this configuration.
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Title: “Live At Cadogan Hall”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 3/29/2011
Genre: Acoustic Rock
I’m not going to lie to the readers and say that my two decade appreciation for Marillion music has been one of nothing but bliss because that would be wrong. Yes I began my journey with the band as a Fish fan but I also embraced the amazing vocal register and talents of Steve Hogarth when he replaced him in 1989. That being said I have ridden the roller coaster of musical output that the band has given us since H began his tenure. I loved what he brought to the band in the beginning but questioned a lot of the experimentation that was done on the whole as the later years came to pass. It seemed as though Marillion were opting to be the band that confused my musical palette the most or were actively choosing to vex those fans who wanted to clearly define what they were “all about” in terms of sound. To better explain what I mean let me say that while I loved “Marbles” when it came out, I was less than pleased with “Somewhere Else” and found myself bored to tears with their acoustic reworking on “Less Is More”. Oddly enough this “Live At Cadogan Hall” was filmed during the 2009 “Less Is More” tour which I did not manage to attend when it came through town and that fact alone had me curious. I was intrigued based on not enjoying “Somewhere Else” but loving their “Somewhere Over London” live film which brought that tour to your living room. Clearly Marillion seemed able to recapture ones interest with the solid live show if they somehow missed you on the studio recording.
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Artist: Steve Hogarth
Title: “Naked In The Chapel”
Label: MVD Entertainment
Release Date: 5/19/2009
Genre: Progressive/Acoustic Rock
Recorded during the tail end of the summer of 2007, Marillion’s front man Steve Hogarth did some solo touring and used the very simple title of “h”. These were acoustic shows that found the singer at a piano in very casual settings and for this particular video we are able to get a front row seat as he does this at the Union Chapel at Islington, London England. I love this kind of stuff when it’s done properly and in this case they exceeded my expectations. For starters the venue is a beautiful chapel from what we can see in the minimal lighting around the stage and Hogarth’s voice is in perfect register from beginning to end. The singer brings no other musicians with him as I have stated and just sits on his own with the company of his Mac book and headphones as he sings his heart out on stripped down to the bare bones Marillion tunes and cover songs along with a couple of numbers from bands he was a part of prior to joining Marillion. It’s an interesting show and one that will keep your attention from the moment it starts out and he begins the journey for our ears with “The Hollow Man” from “Brave”. Hogarth doesn’t focus his time by segmenting the covers to one part of the show and then the Marillion and instead mixes it all up quite nicely. The first cover he does is a wonderful version of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and I am sure that the Thin White Duke would tip his hat for the work on this version. Of course Bowie was in his Ziggy persona at the time that he originally did the song but that doesn’t matter for my approval.
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Title: “Less Is More”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 10/28/2009
Genre: Progressive Rock
Simply put “Less Is More” amounts to Marillion coming off as an Easy Listening artist since its content finds the band taking a number of their tunes and minimizing them to the bare bones by not only slowing them down, reworking the melodies and delivering them acoustically as well. Based on this, it becomes an album that only a few choice fans of the group will be interested in giving a listen to. Before I continue on I must declare to the world that I am a long time Marillion fan and have been supporting them for a couple of decades now but lately their releases are making it harder and harder for me to do this based on how much distance they keep putting between the legacy listener and their own musical adventuring. The band originally formed in 1979 and had had singer Steve Hogarth at the helm since 1988. Over these past thirty years they have slowly morphed from an intensely lyrically visual Prog-Rock band into something more like Atmospheric Experimental Rock and as result lose fans from the past while making some new ones that would not have liked the old stuff anyways. Hearing these compositions acoustically is “nice” at best for me, but this is based on my wanting to be set straight by the group once again after the ill-received “Happiness Is The Road” double album that they last gave us. That release lost me, and I had hoped that its follow up would get back on track like they showed us could be done with “Marbles”. They followed that release with “Somewhere Else” which was uhm…..let’s move on shall we.
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Title: “Somewhere In London”
Label: MVD Visual
Release Date: 8/5/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
It’s almost ancient history for me to say that Marillion became a very different band when singer Fish moved on and was replaced by Steve Hogarth when one takes into consideration that H has been fronting the group since late 1988. That’s over twenty years now and amounts to three times the length in years that Fish was a part of the band. That being said, the direction and the mood in the bands material has continued to morph and change its colors like a chameleon in terms of their sound and have moved on from the term “Prog-Rock” and now are more of an Atmospheric Rock entity that use a lot of today’s Pop hooks. I lost some interest in the albums from a few years ago, but loved them again with “Marbles” which led to high hopes for “Somewhere Else”, the album which was being toured for this DVD film. To be brutally honest I was one of the many people who felt that “Somewhere Else” was a disappointment and found it to be more like a Coldplay recording than a Marillion one. Of course the hard core supporters who follow every change with eager anticipation made my view not matter much so when I learned of the live DVD film for this tour I approached with many levels of hesitation. Fortunately for me and those other “haters” of the “Somewhere Else” material, this is a surprisingly good video and finds the material from that studio album coming off as much stronger in the live sense. The albums own title track “Somewhere Else” is a passionate number while “Thank You Whoever You Are” proves itself to be a song deserving of massive radio rotation. These tunes really did stand out when done in concert and appealed to me a whole lot more than I remember them doing when I spun the CD when I picked it up. That was a good thing because for me it said that “Marillion Is A Band That You Must See Live” as opposed to thinking you will “get it” by simply listening to a recorded piece of music.
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