Last year in September I ended up in the UK, because why say no to a week-end getaway? It was about the same time I ran into a magazine that had a cover story dedicated to the British rock band Marillion. That magazine landed in Romania two days later, but it drew my attention on the band’s latest album, F E A R (F**k Everyone And Run), a piece that the guardian named Marillion’s best album in 20 years. What stirred my interest, besides the music itself, was the fact that the music sent a message, the whole album is a story with an amazing soundtrack, something that reminded me of Brave, their 1994 album that took me years to make sense of, and only got it in its whole meaning after I started being interested in popular culture and the politics of music. So yes, F E A R sends a message, it is there if one wants to get it, but even if one doesn’t, than it is at least worth listening to because it sounds very good. For me, who doesn’t know the band as well as the hardcore fans, out of which I personally know two, the album sounds a lot like Marillion, which means that if I listen to the instrumentals I get it: it’s them. I am plotting an in depth analysis, if only I had time for it. Even if most listeners and reviewers praise it as a masterpiece, unfortunately it will not reach the peak of popularity: no, it is not radio friendly but it sounds amazing live. And here we get to the interesting part: listening to the whole album live. Because this is what Marillion are doing during their current tour, they are playing F E A R in its entirety. And they did so at Zénith, Paris, on October 7th, and I was there, together with the two hardcore Marillion fans mentioned earlier. As an occasional listener I think that I probably had an objective approach to the concert, so objective that I had to say it during the concert: “they sound so good!!!!!” And that crowd! When I said before that Marillion fans are a wonderful and passionate community I wasn’t mistaking. This concert made me believe it even more, so much joy streamed from the audience that it was, occasionally, just as interesting to turn back and look at the crowd as it was to watch the band play on stage.
The guys were in a very good shape, Steve Hogarth was his usual chit-chatty self, always ready for a joke, a story, and 26 (!!!) songs. The concert itself had two parts: F E A R first, and after a short break, some of their classic goldies. I’ve listened to the first part with great interest, and I looked at the images displayed on the screen behind the band with greater interest. Because they meant something and because some of them were sending some messages that were so real they simply hurt. Link that to the music and see what you get. My favourite parts: Living in F E A R and The New Kings (i) F**k Everyone And Run. The album itself joggles with topics as power play, social inequality and injustice, media manipulation, some of the topics that occur in music that dares to send a political message, the music that was thought obsolete, but that is there, just not in the mainstream. The images used for The New Kings (i) F**k Everyone And Run sent a shiver down my spine, I translated them, for me, into the arrogance and greed of certain people in the society, people with a lot of power and an even greater deal of ignorance. To fully get the whole message I’d probably have to attend another concert and pay even more attention to everything. There are more ways of reading into music than just by moving ones hips to the rhythm.
The second part of the concert was the one where people were hoping to hear their favourite Marillion track played live. For me that was The Great Escape and guess what? They played it! Alongside Easter, Afraid of Sunlight or Neverland. To make things sound even better they had 6 guest artists playing violins, horns and cellos. They teased the crowd with jokes, conversations, backstage footage and two encores, the second one showered with confetti.
I am pretty sure I missed a lot of details in the concert but I am sure I didn’t ignore the fact that it sounded great and that Marillion is a band worth seeing live and listening to as often as possible. Yes, they have lighter music as well, I guess everybody knows some of their previous hits. Nevertheless, a lot of their songs sound very good. Now I am eagerly waiting for Steve Hogarth’s concert in November, very curious how that will be like.