“Brave” was a seminal release in Marillion’s career. It came maybe a couple of years after they dropped off the planet for me (94 maybe), so I never knew it existed until 5 years ago, or whenever I rediscovered the group thanks to Porcupine Tree (Stephen Wilson helped produce one of their albums (I think), “Marbles”, which is my favorite of theirs). So, there’s a bit of an emotional distance there for me.
But, I’m willing to bet that for many people in the crowd, this was one of their all-time favorites, and there were grown men, giddy like school boys at the thought of their favorite band playing their favorite songs. One guy beside me (somewhere in his 40s or 50s) was literally jumping up and down in anticipation of one song.
Like other of their works, it was ‘inspired’ by a ‘true life story’ that Hogarth (lead singer, likes to call himself ‘h’ but that’s way too hard to follow in an email) then used to create the lyrics for the entire piece. A woman was saved from jumping off of a bridge to her death (for some reason, I’m thinking Hogarth heard this while it was happening on a police scanner or something), and when asked who she was or how she got there (both literally and figuratively), she simply refused to speak.
So, “Brave” is Hogarth imagining who this woman was, and what her life had been like. As you can imagine, it contains a lot of happy light-hearted ditties. Not.
The thing that always struck me about it, is that it comes to a resounding crescendo on the second to last song, and then there’s this acoustic number that, I don’t know, it doesn’t quite fit in.
At times, the band has had to stop the crowd from applauding, as a lot of the songs flow together, so you can see various members motioning to the crowd, and since the crowd gets it, they will quiet down. But at the end of the second to last song “Great Escape”, they let the crowd go, and they/we gave them a roughly five minute ovation, before they finally played “Made Again.”
I have mentioned previously on blog posts about the sense of community between this band and their fans. Musical preferences are, almost by definition, very personal, people like what they like. But the love affair was obvious and mutual.
In the Q&A the next day, Hogarth mentioned that he had never “heard that sort of sound” (talking about the crowd reaction) in his entire career.
I don’t know that it was the best music I’ve ever heard in a concert, but it was, for lack of a better word, transcendent to be there. At the end of their performance, couples embraced, men wept openly (I may have shed a tear). It was an absolutely fucking brilliant performance, a band setting an expectation and then rising above it.
It was an honor to be there.