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Marillion, Park West, Chicago, IL – 6/22/12

If there were two things that were confirmed at this concert, they are:

  • Though I was encouraged by the presence of my still noticeably older brethren, I am perilously close to becoming too old to rock
  • Sometimes, you can go home again

First, the set list:

  • The Invisible Man
  • Beautiful
  • You’re Gone
  • Easter
  • King
  • Fantastic Place
  • A Voice from the Past
  • Ocean Cloud
  • Power
  • This Town
  • The Rake’s Progress
  • 100 Nights
  • Man of a Thousand Faces
  • Encore 1:
  • Neverland
  • Encore 2:
  • Sugar Mice
  • Happiness is the Road

Thought I knew this already from checking out the set lists from previous concerts in the tour, tomorrow’s show will be of totally different songs, so going to both is worth it (Hogarth joked that it would be largely covers of old Beatles and Rolling Stones songs).

But before I get to the show itself…..

You know you are getting perilously close to being too old to rock when you think to yourself “Damn, I forgot to wear my back brace, I’m going to be standing for close to six hours straight” (transit combined with concert itself, I got off the train around 6:30 PM to stand in line for doors opening at 7, opening band played from 8 to 8:45 PM, then they played from 9:15 to 11:45, and I arrived home around 12:30 AM).  Though Park West does have some seating, I made a game time decision and said, Fuck it, and stood 4 people from the stage.  I’m expected back spasms big time from my programmer back at some point before the weekend is done.  I also noticed that a few of the older gentlemen around me were using ear plugs and thought to myself, Damn, I really need to do that for the next show. 

As to going home again….

I learned of and loved Marillion back in the Fish era, and in fact, the one and only time I ever saw them live was when they played Misplaced Childhood as the opening act for Rush.  When Fish left the band, I bought Seasons End and for whatever reason, it didn’t click for me, and so I let them go.  I skipped right past things like This Strange Engine and Radiation, totally missed Brave, and then checked back in for Anoraknophobia, which I also didn’t particularly like, and that seemed that.

I don’t remember the precise sequence, but at some point, I rediscovered ‘Easter’ from the Seasons End recording, which contains arguably one of Rothery’s two best solos (along with that from ‘Sugar Mice’ of the last Fish effort Clutching at Straws) and, more importantly, discovered Marbles.

The latter item was of particular personal significance to me for at least two reasons.  Though I don’t remember the exact order, the connection between Steven Wilson and the recording (he mixed a couple of tracks) led me to Porcupine Tree (or the other way around).  More so, Marbles was one of those recordings where I liked pretty much every song.

So, I’d been following them since, which led to the usual mixed results (except for the title track, Somewhere Else was pretty hit and miss, Happiness is the Road much better) and subscribed to the band’s newsletter, and helped fund both the latter and the upcoming Sounds That Cant Be Made through the pre-order program (Marillion funds their recordings to some extent through their fans).  When they announced their 2012 tour, which I assumed would be to play the new release (not knowing it won’t be released till this fall), I figured what the hell.  I haven’t seen them live since….wow, am I really that old?  Yes, yes, I am.  So, I bought tickets to both shows six months in advance.  And promptly forgot about it.  Totally.

Earlier this week, I got a newsletter from the band talking about being ‘north of the border’ and thought (since they are an English band) that they must be in Ireland or something, wondering if they knew that’s what being in Canada meant.  Yes, I’m an idiot, they were in Quebec, and I had a moment of panic when I thought that I had completely missed the concerts.  The way my brain’s calendar function works, I probably would have remembered yesterday (at 1 AM), but it would have totally sucked if I hadn’t.

Promptly, I checked out the set lists and noticed a number of songs that I didn’t recognize.  Since Jesus invented YouTube for just this purpose (and since the band doesn’t appear to mind uploads of cuts from DVDs), I started a crash course of listening to them.  Hey, WTF.  These are some really good songs.  It was almost like discovering a new band.  Normally, recognizing that I had ‘missed’ these songs for so long would have depressed me (which was my initial reaction to rediscovering ‘Easter’), but I was really looking forward to these concerts.

And, plain and simple, the band delivered.  As the opening notes to “The Invisible Man” played, which for obvious reasons was something I was especially looking forward to, they delivered a well performed set that was enthusiastically received by the crowd.  I learned to accept and even enjoy Hogarth’s ‘theatrics’ as part of the performance.  He sang the hell out of every song.  I know these guys are trained performers, but how he doesn’t lose his voice is beyond me (he did reference that it was close to the end of the tour and it was affecting him, though you wouldn’t have noticed). 

In person, Rothery is…a very large man.  Seriously, he’s huge.  He looks like he could be an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.  But, he’s simply a great guitarist (it did throw me off that, unlike most of the YouTube videos I’d seen, he was on the ‘wrong’ side of the stage, but since I was so close, it didn’t really matter).  Pete played fantastic bass and backup vocals.  The crowd was hot, and the band fed off of them.  Though I started cramping up at the end of the show, I pulled through.

I’m ready for tomorrow’s concert, where I will be suitably armed and ready with my back brace and ear plugs.  I have this vision that in a decade or so, there will be special section for geriactic fans to be wheeled in on wheelchairs.

Overall, it was a fantastic show, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

posted on Saturday, June 23, 2012 2:00 AM Print
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