Marillion is possibly my most favorite progressive band to emerge from the punk angst wreckage of the 1980’s.
And each time they release a new album, those who consider themselves part of the progressive rock community will consider it a major event.
A major event complete with expletives. For F.E.A.R. (F**k Everyone and Run), the eighteenth studio album is quite a major departure from its’ usually fan funded fare- and seeing how word of mouth is growing about the new album, that it’s now currently charting in the UK and most of Europe at number 4. Portions of the album were recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath, England.
No, INSTEAD it’s more like the long running UK (neo) progressive rock band formed in the late seventies/early eighties by poet/lyricist singer Fish (aka Derek W, Dick) and guitarist Steve Rothery, whose roster now includes bass player Pete Trewavas (who original singer Fish has claimed to me during backstage drunken meet and greets that he is supposed to be my long identical brother), long in the tooth drummer (ex-Focus & Steve Hackett) Ian Mosley, keyboard wizard Mark Kelly, joined by singer Steve Hogarth who prefers to be referred to as ‘H ‘ has proudly proclaimed this album to be their finest ‘protest’ album.
It’s an album balancing the long and short form of progressive and pop. Three multi-chapter epics mixed with three short and poignant beautiful numbers, the one particularly standing out is the brilliantly painting by number narrative titled “White Paper.” Opening major epic extravaganza “El Dorado” deals with the complexities of countries accepting refugees and the whole Brexit movement while closing epic “The New Kings” tries to body sham evil corporate sharks who would be willing to sell and bankrupt nations all for the mighty euros. The band has lots to speak out about much in the similar vein of their previous album, “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” when that one opened with the seventeen minute rantfull doozy entitled “Gaza” offering their viewpoint on the horrible atrocities that occur within forever continuous Israel & Palestine conflict.
As the same as I regard Yes as my diary into the world I grew up in and the shapes of events occurring around me, I regard Marillion as my guide to maturity. the third album with original singer Fish, “Misplaced Childhood’ is the soundtrack of my exodus to California and moving on from my failed attempt to make things right with Tamar, the love of my mid-eighties life who was the subject of my Yes’ 90125 blog entry. I’ve traveled great distances, and usually when I’m in an airplane or on a long car trip, there’s always a Marillion that needs popping in to help ease off some of the weary jaunts – BUT yet, I’m not one to go out and travel vast distance across continents to go to any of their gigs or their world renown “Marillion Weekends” that take place either in Europe or Canada.
Since Fish left the band to pursue a solo career after the equally successful fourth album, “Clutching at Straws“, Steve Hogarth formerly with How We Live & The Europeans came in to help redevelop the band’s sound and direction, giving the band some European pop influence from bands such as U2, the Cure, & Radiohead (they’ve covered “Fake Plastic Trees” on one of their live albums). This incarnation of the band has survived for the past twenty-seven years. I’m now going to go into a whole Wikipedia fueled jargon crème filled tangent about their history, but rather recounted the tours that I’ve been fortunate to have caught since the days I came back from sound engineering school in Chillicothe, Ohio when a couple of fellow Israeli student played a tape of them for me while smoking giant bowls of Turkish hash.
Once I got back to Parsippany, NJ, my former gal pal, Linda Freeman’s brother, Robert roused my jet lagged ass to Rockaway Mall to check out a very late showing of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life– and as we were buying tickets, I made a pit stop to a Harmony Hut record store and saw the debut album “Script for a Jester’s Tear” prominently displayed in the front window of the store, That debut album, along with a Tony Banks solo album entitled “The Fugitive” assured myself that I wasn’t get all that much sleep that night, because I got home from the movie, it was going to be a lingering date with my headphones.
I’m proud to proclaim that I’ve seen nearly every American tour that they band has embarked upon with the SOLE exception of the “Misplaced Children” tour in 1986 that had me stranded in all places, Kansas City, which wasn’t on their tour itinerary. I missed out on the “Afraid of Sunlight” tour in 1995 because they only got to tour around the east coast. It’s only been a handful of tours considering since they broke ties with their main record company EMI, of which were mainly crowd funded by the fans themselves. If you’re a contributor to helping with the expenses of recording a new album or tour, your just reward is to be given an album credit, usually in a deluxe package edition.
I like to think, I’ve been lucky enough to have special west coast Marillion exclusives. In addition of attending every ex-lead singer Fish’s solo shows (which you technically need two days to recover from, because they are so fucking long with Fish giving a droning speech between each number), most notably a secret San Diego show for the 1992 Holidays in Eden tour, and perhaps one of the last times I stepped foot at the Sunset Blvd Tower Records location for a special acoustic version of Marillion songs performed by only three fifths of the group masquerading as the Los Marillos Trio. Portions of an interview I conducted with the band after the gig are reprinted here from my mothership blog http://www.purplepinupguru.blogspot.com
So why all the admiration at this particular time? Well, let’s just say I’m simply getting myself psyched for their Los Angeles appearance this Saturday as part of the handful of USA dates this fall (other major cities include New York, Chicago (2 dates!!), San Francisco, Denver, & Boston.) in support of F.E.A.R. Plus fall is a time when the major prog rock heavies love to tour. Established acts that I support are out in full force including Opeth, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson (who sold out here in LA), Steven Wilson, and the old meets new again newly formed AWR (Anderson, Wakeman, & Rabin), of which the latter I will be trying to see in Las Vegas.
It’s a shame that Marillion isn’t on the tip of the tongue for most general music aficionados as the only song to receive radio air play was the single “Kayleigh” (along with subsequent song “Lavender” that was tagged on to the end. It seemed that it was a song split in half to make two singles out of it), as a lot of the stuff penned by Hogarth would make great soundtrack music in the end credits of some current cinema offering), that probably served as the launching pad for most fans. If you’re a songwriter living in Los Angeles, most likely you’re a fan since many audience members who attend their shows are mostly made up of Los Angeles finest studious musicians and fellow tunesmiths who look upon them as inspiration in honing their craft.
Is Game of Thrones writer/creator George R.R, Martin a big fan? There was a character named Marillion played by Scottish actor Emun Elliot in the first season, but beyond that there isn’t much media mention of the band anywhere. Of course, a fantasy novel franchise, most notably the classic J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings franchise was the one that christened the Marillion name from the posthumous 1982 book “The Silmarillion”.
But I suppose that’s ok for the band who revels themselves as unfashionable and trendy as fuck. They love the anonymity of hardly being recognized on a public street corner as they more prone to stalk and troll their fans on social media rather than the other way around. I have two members of Marillion on my list of facebook pals, Pete Trewavas and Steve Rothery. Mark Kelly used to be around, but I think he had set up a fan page instead.
AND NOW Representing two local Los Angles live concert blogging experiences from 2004 – 2005.
“Marbles” Released in 2004. One of my personal favorite efforts by the band during the ‘aughts’. Funny, it was the first and last time I ordered from Racket Records. Received the deluxe edition in the mail, all beat up and spine torn, When I opened the package at my office in Warner Bros: a freaking moth flew out of the box. A freaking moth survived the trip from the all the way from the UK!!
Don’t Hurt Yourself
Hey Jude (segues into:)
Three Minute Boy
Between You & Me
A thirty minute set consisted of four songs: 80 Days from This Strange Engine Don’t Hurt Yourself (whoring for DVD sales of their last European concert tour) from Marbles, (which by all rights should be a staple hit played on every alternative rock station), Answering Machine from Radiation, Man of a Thousand Faces also from This Strange Engine and as a bonus encore per fan request: A Collection – a simple little obscure acoustic number that was a bonus track on Holidays In Eden.
Cary Coatney Q: Did an image of Angelina Jolie sprout in your mind while writing the lyrics to Angelina off of Marbles?
A: No actually it was Margretina, a DJ on Cable radio. A billboard in London had her made her up look like a call girl. So we had to change name for legal purposes.
Cary Coatney Q: Will you ever get around to do a follow up to Wishing Tree and that girl on the cover of Carnival of Souls looked very fetching. (Peter Trewavas pitches in: Oh yes, Hannah Stobart, definitely very fetching !)
A: Oh yeah, we would definitely like to get around to doing another one sometime in the near future. Hannah and I are currently writing material for the follow-up. And yes indeed Hannah is very fetching ( yeah, but the debut album was released around ten years ago – a lot can change to a woman’s looks in ten years).
(the second album, Ostara was finally released in 2009)
Bassist Pete Trewavas:
Cary Coatney Q: Just a compliment on your work on your side band Keno (available through Insideout Music). The guitar player John Mitchell (also of Arena) used to be a good friend and e-mail buddy. I once hung out with him and Matt Goodluck when Arena was visiting out here for a Prog Rock festival and we grew to be great e-mail pen pals ever since. It’s good to see him grow and mature into a fine musician We all went to Universal CityWalk after the gig.
A: Oh wow, you know Matt Goodluck?
Cary Coatney follow-up: I just said I did, didn’t I? Yes, Matt has retired from the music business and now works as an agriculture inspector for the city of Sidney, Australia. And he’s already bought his first house. Goddamn lucky bugger barely into his thirties.
All: Yeah, we all miss Matt Goodluck.
(Actually Matt these days is a lead singer for a Australian Pink Floyd Tribute band, Experience Floyd Pty, Ltd that is getting massive raves in his homeland.)
AND SO, ON A TOTALLY UNRELATED NOTE:
For those reading this blog on the weekend of Oct 21st. Do me a favor and be sure to check out my former Parsippany High School best gal pal Linda Freeman (now Yarosh)’s daughter, Danika Yarosh in her spectacular feature film debut in Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back. She plays a mysterious teen age girl who may or may not have a link to Jack Reacher’s past. Reviews have been mostly stellar so far and most critics agree that its’ way better than the first one.