Billed as their first North American tour since 2004, Marillion made a triumphant return to Toronto much to the delight of the sold out crowd Wednesday evening. The occasion marked Marillion’s first Toronto appearance as a full band since 1997s This Strange Engine Tour. (Note: The band did play an acoustic show as a three piece at the Mod Club in 2005). The temperature was hotter inside than it was outside, with the venue being crammed on top of that, made for an uncomfortable evening for everyone. The heat did not detour the fans from lining up early to get into the venue in the sweltering 95°F/35°C heat, which shows the true dedication of the Marillion faithful.
Opening the show with “Splintering Heart”, may have been reminiscent of those two fantastic shows at The Phoenix Concert Theatre back in 92’. The band continued with “Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven), bleeding right into a blistering “Slàinte Mhath” without missing a beat. By that point, the crowd was ecstatic and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the show myself. At this point, slowing it down a bit with “Fantastic Place” was the right place for it especially if one knew what was to lie ahead. Things got intense as the pace again picked up with “King” and “Afraid Of Sunlight”, two fan favorites culled from 95s Afraid Of Sunlight, that always seem to go over well. The Toronto show seemed to take on a more of a hits or commercial song landscape compared to some of the earlier shows on this tour. “Kayleigh”, “Sugar Mice” and “Man Of A Thousand Faces” are shining examples to back this claim. The song “Power”, from the forthcoming Sounds That Can’t Be Made, was the sole taste of new material. Perhaps the song that went over the best was an impromptu “Easter”, which was played after several vocal fans called for it. Sonically “Neverland” to me was the true highlight as it closed out the main set.
Despite how hot it had to have been on that stage, the band still managed to play for close to two hours. The band has now been together for twenty-three years without any member changes, which nowadays is comforting and surprising somewhat to see. Vocalist Steve Hogarth (H) joined in 89’ replacing Fish and the band has never looked back. It seems hard to believe when Sounds That Can’t Be Made is released later this fall, Hogarth will have recorded thirteen studio albums with the band. It almost seems like yesterday when Seasons End came out. Guitarist Steven Rothery, bassist Peter Trewavas, drummer Ian Mosley and keyboardist Mark Kelly have been playing together since 1984.
Despite not always having commercial success, the band has found other ways and means to build a steady fan base. Marillion was one of the first bands to use the internet as a main connection to their fans. They are also eminent for having fans travel sizable distances just to see one of their shows. I still marvel at how the fans raised $60,000 and brought the band to the US back in 97’. Not many other bands have as dedicated fans as that. If the band ever makes it back to North America for a full tour again, I highly recommend checking it out. By the way a bigger venue in Toronto and a little elbow room would be welcomed as well.
Cover my Eyes
Afraid of Sunlight
Man of a Thousand Faces
The Great Escape
No One Can
Three Minute Boy
Special Thanks to Kim Estlund and Lucy Jordache for their help.
For a better way of life check out www.marillion.com
While you are at it check out our interview with keyboardist Mark Kelly click here