Marillion: Marbles In The Park
I'm not sure many would have predicted that 22 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, Bluray retelling of the band's 2004 album Marbles, filmed and recorded at the 2015 Marillion Weekend in Port Zélande, 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 fanbase 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 so high, it would be no exaggeration to rename the DVD/Bluray 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, extremely impressive. Lasers, bespoke imagery on the full backdrop-sized screen and a multilevel stage making for a visual feast. However, as ever it's the band's singer, h, 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 Messrs Rothery, Kelly, Trewavas and 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 choice of the Afraid Of Sunlight pair, "Out Of This World" and "King" and the title track of 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 in the visual options where this show really comes alive. Proving indispensable for long term fans of the band and new initiates into the Marillion family. The only downside? That there's actually a three DVD/Bluray Out Of The Box version that also documents the other two nights of the Port Zélande event. Disc one a full rendition of the Anoraknophobia album, disc three a full run through of the band's 23 singles, Fish years and all…
1. The Invisible Man
2. Marbles I
4. Fantastic Place
5. The Only Unforgivable Thing
6. Marbles II
7. Ocean Cloud
8. Marbles III
9. The Damage
10. Don't Hurt Yourself
11. You're Gone
13. Drilling Holes
14. Marbles IV
16. Out of This World
18. Sounds That Can't Be Made
Added: January 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Marillion.com
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