Marillion - 'Marbles In The Park'

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Marillion - 'Marbles In The Park'

The picture quality is so high that it would be no exaggeration to rename the DVD/Blu-ray version 'Marillion – The Movie'.

I doubt many would have predicted that twenty-two years after their last UK Top Ten album, Marillion would take their 2016 effort, 'Fuck Everyone And Run', right up to #4. Lyrically challenging and musically rewarding, the album found the band right at the height of their powers and yet you could argue that it is in the live arena that they've always been at their best.

'Marbles In The Park' is (depending on your preference) a 2CD, DVD or Blu-ray re-telling of the band's 2004 album 'Marbles', filmed and recorded at the 2015 Marillion Weekend in The Netherlands. Initially released as a two disc, fifteen track epic, 'Marbles' was viewed by many as a return to form from Marillion, their previous three albums veering on occasion into areas their long faithful fan base weren't quite so sure of. Therefore, in front of a packed, vociferous, partisan crowd, it's no surprise that it's the full-monty version of 'Marbles' that's given new life here. It's a breathtaking experience.

Technically this release is simply stunning, the picture quality is so high that it would be no exaggeration to rename the DVD/Blu-ray version 'Marillion – The Movie'. With sympathetic direction that brings you right into the on stage action, but never attempts to be a distraction, and a sound that even cranked up is clear, but never sharp, all that's left is for Marillion to deliver a performance to remember and remember and remember. And they do. Oh how they do!

With the Marillion Weekends allowing the luxury of playing three consecutive nights in one venue, the production values are, for a non-arena show, impressive. Lasers, bespoke imagery on the full backdrop-sized screen and a multi-level stage making for a visual feast. As ever, it's the band's singer, Steve Hogarth, that immediately steals the show... even before he's entered the stage. As 'The Invisible Man' begins, the singer's face appears, larger than life, on the screens behind the band and sings the early exchanges, allowing the man himself to creep into view, barely noticed to suddenly commandeer the attention of all. The singer is immediately in character, something he maintains in all manner of guises for the entire show and with sublime numbers such as 'You're Gone', 'Ocean Cloud', 'The Damage' and 'Drilling Holes' for him to get his teeth into, no wonder. Still, these songs would be nothing without the amazing talents of Steve Rothery, Mark Kelly, Pete Trewavas and Ian Mosley, and as you'd expect from a quartet that have been together since 1984, their chemistry is verging on telepathic. Something the enigmatic, emotional rendition of 'Marbles' closing number 'Neverland' illustrates to perfection.

The choices of 'Afraid Of Sunlight' pair, 'Out Of This World' and 'King', and the title track from 'Sounds That Can't Be Made' prove equally inspired as encores, but by this stage it's mere icing on the most sumptuous of cakes.

Excellent though the 2CD version of 'Marbles In The Park' is, it's the visual options where this show really comes alive, proving indispensable for long term fans in the process. The only downside? That there's actually a three DVD/Blu-ray 'Out Of The Box' version that also documents the other two nights of this event. One a rendition of the 'Anoraknophobia' album, the other a full run through of the band's twenty-three singles...

Steven Reid

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