An album by Marillion
First up we have London 1991, with Holidays in Eden. Although a lot of fans wail Holidays in Eden for being overboard on the pop qualities, I really like that album. And it seems the crowd does too. They clap along, sing once in a while, and their energy really pulls you in to the audio-only live milieu. One problem is that Steve Rothery's awesome guitar solos don't come through very well. Those classic moments on "Splintering Heart" (love that song...) when the gentle sonics break into Rothery's emotional solos lack the same impact as the studio version. That's too bad. It's also damaging to the impact of "Easter", which has one of the most beautiful guitar solos _ever_. Steve Hogarth makes up for it though...he puts a lot of soul into the performances here, and his voice is great live. He hits every note of the brilliant pop cut "Cover My Eyes", and makes "Waiting to Happen" an even more moving song. And they perform "The Space"! That's one of my favorites, with that classic, dramatic keyboard melody and chorus...so good, so good.
Now we're off to Rotterdam in 1995 for Afraid of Sunlight. Highlights are the spine-tingling performance of "Beautiful" and the emotion-packed "Afraid of Sunlight". Rothery's guitar sounds much better here too. If you like surprises, you'll like this -- the band performs a medley of songs from Misplaced Childhood, "Kayleigh", "Lavender", and "Bitter Suite IV. Blue Angel"! I can't help but think of them as cover songs...they just seem to be inextricably part of Fish-era Marillion. However, the performance is amazing. Hogarth sings them excellently (lots of feeling...he's good at that), and Rothery's embellished soloing is awesome. The performance of "King" also comes across better than the album version, with more energy.
That's it for disc 1. For the second disc, the band is in Paris on the Brave tour...and they perform the entire album. You might wonder how well this works...after all, Brave is an extremely elaborate production job. No worries...where the band can't match the studio performance's production, they make up for it with energy. Also, the volume level is more consistent than the studio disc (though the quiet parts are still really quiet). The hard-rock numbers like "Hard as Love" and "Paper Lies" feel more natural and loose. "Goodbye to All That" loses some of its effect without all those ambient sounds, but it's still a powerful, powerful epic. "Falling from the Moon" shows the band at its emotional peak, with a tragic guitar solo and amazingly sincere and fervent vocals. "Made Again" brings it to a calm finale.
If you've enjoyed Hogarth-Marillion over the years, I strongly recommend this set. The song selection is pretty much perfect, and the performances are great (again, Hogarth is awesome live). Get it! Get it!
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An album by Marillion
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