Live Review: Marillion, The Astoria, 7th November, 1989

The Kings of London Town

Steve Hogarth: smell the gloves.

There was a time when no-one could have conceived a Marillion without Fish. However, the inevitable happened and he left the band for pastures 'greener.' Tonight's show could therefore be construed as a hallmark in modern rock history. Many an act would have easily called it a day after such events, but in Marillion's case that was not to be. Sheer determination and hard work resulted in the release of Season's End in September, featuring the vocal talents of new boy Steve Hogarth.

One can imagine how he must have felt at this, his first major British gig!

There was a buzz of excitement within the auditorium as the fans clamoured towards the front of the stage in awe of seeing their 'forgotten sons.' At full capacity the venue was a melting pot of all types, showing just how diverse the band's audience can be!

At the intro tape rolled into the first number The King of Sunset Town. Marillion took to the stage as the fans cheered them on with jubilation. Steve Hogarth immediately took to the crowd like a man possessed as the lights showered down on their stage set which was simple, yet somehow impressive. It was so nice to see them back in a smaller venue – the atmosphere was just right!

So it was down to business as they launched into Slainte Mhath and Script For A Jester's Tear. Indeed the older songs sounded as immediate as they had been before, not because of the absence of Fish but because the chemistry between the band and their audience was as strong as ever. As the crowd sang out the first verse of Script one could see the grin on Steve's face as he realised where the fans loyalties lay.

The Uninvited Guest saw Steve Hogarth crouching behind a glass pane as he magically introduced the song to the enthralled crowd. Steve Rothery then harnessed an acoustic guitar as the guys rolled neatly into Easter (my favourite track on the new album), which displays a new direction for the band, a direction which will hopefully bring the band a much wider worldwide audience. What comes across is the music – certainly at no detriment to Steve Hogarth's excellent lyrics. Marillion are as tight as they ever were!

The stringent crescendo of Warm Wet Circles echoes around the hall as Ian Mosley thundered away on his drumkit, creating a powerful, solid backing that is a vital part of the overall Marillion sound. New tracks Holloway Girl, Berlin, and Season's End came across with the same degree of sincerity as when the band first set out on the road to promote their very first album. One could construe that this is a new beginning for Marillion – their attitude is much more aggressive!

Steve Rothery (now minus beard) launched into the classic opening chords of Kayleigh, which was dedicated to all those 'who kept faith.' The crowd naturally went ape shit – what else did you expect them to do? As Steve soared away on his six string stinger it became only too clear that Marillion were back with a vengeance – their total sound was still as compelling, if not awesome! Lavender only enforced this before they ended their Misplaced Childhood medley with the passionate Heart of Lothian.

They had the punters 'well in their net' as they broke into the best live track of the evening Hooks In You, which is destined to become the band's new Market Square Heroes. The rapport between Marillion and the audience was at fever pitch! Mark Kelly (complete with pony tail) stood like a lord over his bank of keyboards as Messieurs Trewavas and Rothery ran around the stage with an enthusiasm never displayed before!

Marillion closed their set proper with The Space which saw Steve Hogarth crouched over a keyboard as he poured out his lyrics of great depth!

Encoring with Incommunicado, After Me, and of course Market Square Heroes the eager Marillion vocalist found himself clambering up onto the PA as he introduced the band one by one. The audience he assumed knew "knew the guys much better than he did" and he was right. They applauded their heroes as the band brought the show to a fitting close.

In conclusion, the concert saw the triumphant return of a band who act as a vital catalyst within the body of rock music. They keep the industry healthy by maintaining their high standards of musicianship and stage professionalism. The months of waiting have finally paid off!

Mark Crampton
Riff Raff
December, 1989
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