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Marillion: Size Matters

The second in a number of live recordings set to be unleashed by earMUSIC from Marillion's very own Racket Records back catalogue, Size Matters was recorded in 2009 at one of the band's now legendary 'weekends' in Port Zélande in The Netherlands. With three different sets played out over three days, these events are often seen as an opportunity to celebrate a particular aspect of Marillion's work and in 2009, what went on to become Size Matters turned its focus on the big, the large, the sprawling and indeed the epic. Size undoubtedly did matter, the band's lengthier tracks performed in the sort of satisfying set that their fans would never usually receive on a normal tour.

The often un-loved Radiation album provides the opening cut, "A Few Words From The Dead" proving that even when Marillion were maybe not fully at their peak, they were still capable of pulling out something rather jaw dropping and unique, the song's structure revealing the stunning knack that this band possess of building and building a piece of music to a crushing crescendo. The three track piece from Holidays In Eden follows that up, "This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights", adding the power and sheen its parent album has become known for and demonstrating the often overlooked diversity Marillion have long offered.

Obviously, given the setting, the crowd is partizan and the love clearly rubs off on stage, frontman Steve Hogarth giving an emotional and heartfelt performance that really sums up his unique value to the band. Vocally he's a powerhouse, but a tender one who can provide a whole host of moods, tones and atmospheres. Something the band he leads are renowned for and as the set segues into the caress of "This Is The 21st Century" it's something that comes ever more clearly into focus; Steve Rothery peeling out silky yet strong guitar lines as the synth and keyboard washes woven by Mark Kelly pulsate with the booming yet beautiful bass work from Pete Trewavas. "Ocean Cloud" repeats the wonderful process in more enigmatic and sombre style, but as with all the latter day material revealed on this 2 disc set, the huge pay offs at the songs' ends are always glorious and uplifting.

The seldom performed "Interior Lulu" kicks off disc two in fine style, energetic and uncompromising and yet much more accessible than its studio counterpart ever was, while "The Invisible Man" and "This Strange Engine" are quite simply classic epics of the Hogarth era. However, one thing the singer has never been quite so comfortable recounting is the work the band did prior to his arrival and the "Kayleigh/Lavender/Heart Of Lothian" suite from Misplaced Childhood still illustrates how one wordsmith finds it tough to squeeze the musings of another into the space they were meant to fill. Still, these are great songs, performed superbly and the audience lap them up with the gusto you might expect. Leaving the tour de force of "Neverland" to close the album out in quite stunning fashion and send the crowd back to their chalets with huge smile on their faces and wonderful music in their hearts.

For some the very nature of Size Matters makes it a tough listen. The uncompromisingly lengthy compositions never broken up by something briefer or more immediate but I have to say that as a huge fan of the more epic, building and expansive side of what Hogarth era Marillion can offer, I find this to be a hugely rewarding live release that simply gets better with each and every listen. If you've newly discovered, or rediscovered, Marillion through their recent, fabulous Fuck Everyone And Run album, or you've merely dabbled in their studio output over the last few decades, then this is a wonderful way to have this band's true identity as a monstrously brilliant live act revealed to you.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. A Few Words For The Dead
2. This Town/ The Rakes Progress/ 100 Nights
3. This Is The 21st Century
4. Ocean Cloud
5. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill

Disc 2
1. Interior Lulu
2. Kayleigh/ Lavender/ Heart Of Lothian
3. The Invisible Man
4. This Strange Engine
5. Neverland

Added: March 4th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
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Language: english

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