Sunday, 1 April 2018

Marillion: All One Tonight — Live At The Albert Hall

It is to my eternal shame and embarrassment that I have never — at time of writing — seen Marillion live.

I've been a fan since Sugar Mice tickled my young, tender ears, and like a dutiful geek I hoovered up the back catalogue like a rat in a punnet of blueberries.

Then disaster.

A stunning double live album marked a parting of the ways, the Scottish one left and the young English one stepped into his giant shoes.

And while Hooks In You seemed like a good start for the band, it was the far darker and more complex Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors that held my sway.

And so it was, me clinging to the old band while they went off in a new, alien direction.

Then Brave happened.

Those five lucky folks who shared a flat with me in my first year at university may well remember the album too, as Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury and — in particular — Hard As Love became part of the soundtrack of my chequered love life.

And so I was reunited with Aylesbury's finest. And so we have kept each other company over the years.

Sure, there have been times when we haven't been so close (I still struggle with Radiation), but when we've connected — Afraid Of Sunlight, say — life has been joyous.

And so it was when F.E.A.R landed in 2016.

An album full of passion and anger, it seemed to be exactly what the world needed to hear at that moment.

It was a dark, complex, wonderful, beautiful piece of work — and one we had no choice but to name our Album Of The Year.

The fact we missed out on getting tickets for last year's Albert Hall show took a bit of the shine off the album's success, but time heals all wounds.

Especially when an e-mail lands, offering you the chance to review the live DVD that was filmed at the show we failed to get tickets to.

Wonderful stuff.

And so, with cuppa on, 'full screen' enabled and the big headphones deployed to shut out everything we settle down for Disc 1...

...and emerge, just over an hour later, wanting to wallow in the whole thing all over again.

It's not always possible to capture the energy and atmosphere of a live show on film — which is the main reason we're not massive fans of them — but on All One Tonight Marillion have managed just that.

With the audience and band sharing a special bond, the love and pride that envelopes this show sweeps off the screen and makes you feel part of the event.

The first disc is F.E.A.R played in full, and live it's a bigger, darker, bolder beast than it's studio counterpart.

The visuals of the live show are also blended well with the band's performance and the audience's reactions.

Everything sweeps, everything soars, the band are on top form and front and centre Steve Hogarth, very much the eye of the storm.

He's not a massive ego fronting a big band, which takes a few seconds to get your head round. Instead, in a beautifully understated way, he's the conduit — the special link between the music and the audience.

And you can tell he thinks both are more important than he is, he just loves being there in the middle of it all.

And that's the other thing that comes across very, very clearly — just how much fun the band is having on this special night.

Then we move onto disc two, and we find the band augmented with a string quartet, a french horn player and a flutist.

For the second half of the show, Marillion take you through their back catalogue — with songs old and new given new depth and life with the addition of the extra musicians.

Well, I say old.

What becomes clear as you enjoy the band's back catalogue is that they stop at Easter (the song, not the egg-feasting holiday).

Nothing from the 'old' band is aired — and you don't miss them at all.

Because when you realise watching this lot have so much fun on that hallowed stage is just how many great songs they've amassed in the last 30 years.

You also realise just how good a band they are.

Sure, anyone can sound good in a studio — but to recreate it live? With extra musicians? At The Albert Frickin' Hall????

They're a bit special.

And, humble. And normal.

Which is what comes across so clearly in the half-hour documentary.

As the band talk about putting on the show and the rehearsals and planning, none of them are anything but awestruck by the venue they'll be performing in.

It takes something special for a band to still be going — and producing great new material — after more than 35 years together.

And what this DVD captures is that something special. The chemistry within the band and the chemistry they have with their audience.

And to top it all off, we're finally going to see them live in a couple of weeks. I imagine the band will be delighted...

* The special edition of All One Tonight will be available here once it's back in stock. If you could hold off ordering yours til we've got ours, that would be dandy.

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