In anticipation of the release of their latest album Somewhere Else, prog-rock legends Marillion had a Listening Party at New Yorks Kenny's Castaways on February 24th for a small gathering of invited media folk and fans. Bassist Pete Trewavas and guitarist Steve Rothery were on hand to preview the new music to the audience, as well as play a short four-song acoustic set to the delight of everyone.
Pete Pardo and Ken Pierce were in attendance and bring this report of the evening!
Ken Pierce: I have been listening to Marillion on and off for a number of years. It began for me with Misplaced Childhood when they were fronted by their former singer Fish (Derek Dick). During this time the Progressive Rock group delivered some of the most inspired "epic poetry" placed to music that I had ever heard. When Fish left, I was skeptical about the bands future until I heard their new singer Steve Hogarth. He was a man who had a different range and register from Fish as well as his own ideas which would transform the style and sound of the group going forward. It's been almost twenty years since he joined and quite a few recordings and special edition releases. Tonight I would be able to take part in an official album listening party for the bands newest album and the scene would be New York City's own Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village. Here are some thoughts on the overall evening.
Having been to several listening functions as a member of the music media I expected the presence of a couple of the band members, and as luck would have it bassist Peter Trewavas and guitarist Steve Rothery would be in attendance to present the album to the attendees. Normally, the artist will say something to the participants and then present the album and then take questions and answers about it or conduct their interviews. I remember the Voivod listening where we all sat quietly as it rocked – the same happened recently with the Porcupine Tree forthcoming. Tonight would be a little different as this event was open also to the bands fan base and a good number of them were in attendance with the album already spinning long before the scheduled time we were set to hear it. It was quickly after arriving that I felt this was not the most opportune setting for such a function as there was crowd noise and the album was just not playing on every area of the club. The new release is called Somewhere Else, and from what I was able to digest in the bar was pretty good but as I said the numerous distractions made it really difficult to absorb and appreciate for the sake of future reporting. I was able to find it a logical step from their last album Marbles, but in all honesty I need to sit with it quietly to better realize comments to the public about it.
Rothery and Trewavas were both very cordial and after the first spin of the CD got up on stage and performed four acoustic numbers from the bands catalog. I was both surprised and impressed to find Peter singing as well as he did and really holding his own on songs from the Fish and Hogarth years. He also spoke to the crowd regarding touring and especially with news about the United States citing that nothing was in the works for this region at the moment. Over the past few years the Marillion fan club has funded a number of their efforts and could very well be called upon to do so again. During the jamming of "Sugar Mice" (one of the most popular Fish-era songs), the entire bar seemed to be singing with them. I really think it was great for them to open this up to the general public, but when it is designed to serve also as a media function they need to set it up a little better. Do the media listening first and get the writers, photographers and etcetera out of the way and then open to the fans and kick back and enjoy the time with them. I admire Marillion's connection to their fans as many other bands cannot even claim a half of this. It was a good time with friends when it came down to it, and featured some great music and the presence of Marillion. I can think of worse things. Watch for their new album Somewhere Else as it will be available in the States care of MVD Entertainment.
Pete Pardo: This evening was a intimate little setting for the introction of Marillion's latest platter Somewhere Else. While Kenny's Castaways is not really an ideal setting for a gathering of this nature, and pretty small to boot, it served the purpose. When we walked into the club prior to the start time, the music of the new CD was already playing, loudly I might add, and most of the 50+ people in the club were busy chatting and getting acquanted and reacquanted (many familiar faces were seen mulling about, including NEARFest's Chad Hutchinson and members of the band IZZ), so the noise level was pretty high. This didn't really add a great atmosphere to actually sit and listen to the new album, but what you could hear did sound quite good, stylistically along the same lines as their previous release Marbles, with plenty of soaring vocals from Steve Hogarth and the standard rich instrumentation from the band, including those great melodies. It would have been nice to just sit and listen to the album from start to finish to really soak it in, but the night was not really set up that way. Pete and Steve got up and played a four song acoustic set which was very well received, and they even busted out into great renditions of classics like "Sugar Mice" and "Easter", both of which had the crowd singing along. Trewavas handled the vocals, and did a very good job. We spoke to Pete briefly, and he said that he had been practicing singing those four tunes for 2 weeks straight, and was a little nervous about how he would sound each night, but so far there have been no problems. When asked about a US tour, both Pete and Steve mentioned that there were no plans at the moment, but you never know what might happen. Pete had also mentioned that the rest of the band were doing similar Listening Party's on the West Coast, so in reality if Marillion doesn't get to tour here in the States this year, at least we had a chance to see them in some fashion.
Despite the limitations of the club that this event was held in, this was a fun, if brief, evening, spent with some old friends who still know how to charm their audience and deliver the goods. What we heard of the new material, I can safely say if you liked Marbles you will certainly enjoy their upcoming release.
Official Web site: http://www.marillion.com