Marillion Manchester 2021

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Marillion are a special band

Manchester: Bridgewater Hall – 18th November 2021

It's almost two years to the day since I saw last Marillion (also at this wonderful venue), Covid has a lot to answer for! The hall is almost full and you can sense the excitement in the crowd as show time approaches. At precisely 20:30 the band hit the stage and almost everybody in the stalls stands up to greet their long-lost heroes. There is a delay in the band actually kicking off with the first song as they are lapping up all the genuine, heartfelt applause.

Vocalist Steve Hogarth, aka H, has a huge beaming smile on his face as he thanks the fans for turning up, and the band kick off with the title track from 'Sounds That Can't Be Made' with bassist Pete Trewavas running around like a man possessed. 'King' really catches the crowd's imagination and Mark Kelly mesmerizes us on the keys. 'Afraid Of Sunlight' is superb with an impassioned vocal from H and the band are only just warming up. 'You're Gone' is performed with gusto and the crowd are enthralled, and then one of many highlights from the evening comes in the form of 'Easter'; Steve Rothery's guitar solo is absolutely stunning. H is keeping the crowd entertained with his in between song banter, he truly is one of the best frontmen around, not forgetting his occasional forays on keyboards and guitar. A triple salvo from 'Brave' is next as the band run through 'Bridge', 'Living With The Big Lie' and the emotional 'Runaway'. Ian Mosley holds everything together with his equally powerful and intricate drumming.

The band treat us to a new song from their forthcoming album 'An Hour Before It's Dark', and if 'Be Hard On Yourself' is anything to go by then "it's going to be a belter" to quote H; cracking track and the crowd seem to agree given the reception it received. 'Berlin' is awesome and then a most welcome surprise – 'The Release' from 1989, how this little gem never made it on to the 'Season's End' album is one of life's great mysteries; the crowd have a good bop to it. An absolutely stunning rendition of 'Neverland' brings the house down and ends the main set, Rothery's solo is sublime.

Of course, the band return and how fortunate we are to hear a superb rendition of 'Splintering Heart' from 1991's 'Holidays in Eden'; things slow down for 'Made Again' and the band leave us wanting more and our wish is granted as Marillion come back out for another encore, the twenty minute mini epic 'The Leavers', what a way to end a stupendous show. You can tell that the band are genuinely grateful to be playing for their fans again and the fans are in raptures watching them. Everything was pretty much perfect – the sound, the light show and most of all the two and a quarter hour performance. Marillion are a special band and in H they possess a particularly special vocalist-come-storyteller.

Az Chaudhry

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