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Marillion - Before First Light (Afraid of Sunlight Live 2003) CD (album) cover





4.22 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Marillion are holding (yet) another convention in a couple of months in Holland, and from what I've seen on the numerous DVD's filmed during these conventions, it looks like a wildly entertaining time. A much anticipated feature during the weekend is an album selected by the band to be performed in it's entirety (This Strange Engine will be performed in 2007).

Back in 2003, Marillion performed the Afraid Of Sunlight album from beginning to end--and already amazing album from the Hogarth era brought forth for the ravenous crowd makes for an exciting DVD. It's not a very long DVD, but entertaining nonetheless.

The DVD opens with the intro to "Gazpacho" with some very shapely females displaying signs saying "Round 1" as you would see at a prize fight. Rothery strums the opener on the Steinberger double neck and Marillion are off and running. Hogarth performs with boxing gloves and a satin robe which is in typical Hogarth humor.

After a wardrobe change and a brief conversation with the crowd, H signals the beginning of "Cannibal Surf Babe" with the striking of the triangle. A funny little tune complete with a fairly close impersonation of harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys, but it adds a little levity to a fairly brooding and moody collection of music.

Keeping the Steinberger one for one more song, Rothery plays that sweet intro to "Beautiful". This song has always been a favorite, and even though Hogarth delivers a truly memorable performance on the studio version, he still manages to capture the song's heartfelt emotion.

A truly touching moment is Hogarth just looking over the crowd in amazement as the audience is showing their appreciation by this thunderous applause. H appears to just soak it in for a few seconds before flashing that sly grin of his. Once a calm comes over, the band slides into "Afraid Of Sunrise". A hypnotic sister song to the title track, it shows how skilled Trewavas is on bass as we weaves the foundation on the fretless.

Then out comes the cricket bat for "Out Of This World". As mellow and quiet as these songs are between "Cannibal Surf Babe" and "King", there is still this resonating power and energy...even when Marillion speak softly. Such is the case for "Out Of This World". Puncuated by a searing guitar solo from Rothery.

The title track could be that one song of Marillion's that just crushes me. I always describe it as 'achingly beautiful', and so is the performance. The piano intro is so simple, yet timid. Hogarth (again) delivers impeccably. You know he's performed it hundreds and hundreds of times, but he still gives it his all.

The rarely performed "Beyond You" is a treat. They intentionally re-created Phil Spector's 'Wall Of Sound' for the original studio version; however, hearing it live makes me wonder why it's not dragged out of moth balls more often. It suffers a bit from the studio version and Rothery's slide solo at the end seems a bit awkward, but still good to hear it live.

The set ends with the always intense "King". Even if it's not a favorite, one cannot help to appreciate it watching it performed live. Especially the climactic finish with the band just grinds and grinds until the explosion at the end. To see the crowd shoot their hands up in perfect unison upon the songs completion is astounding. It's almost as powerful as the song.

The two encores are "Faith" and "Easter". The former has the band switching it up, with Trewavas on acoustic and Hogarth on bass. A nice song that didn't make Marbles, but could make the new album. And what can I say about "Easter" that already hasn't been said. Every performance is special to watch and I never tire of that classic guitar solo. Even going back to the Fish era, that could be Marillion's perfect song.

Absent is any flashy DVD package design or extensive liner notes. Always ones to go against the grain, the DVD holds the distinction of being in the Guiness Book of World Records as the quickest DVD release from a performance. The band performed Afraid Of Sunlight on Friday and had it done in time to sell by Sunday. Still, it's the music that matters. Marillion always puts substance before style and I don't see them changing. Available only through their website, Before First Light is a must have for any Marillion fan (especially the Hogarth era). Before I bought it, somebody told me that you see 'Marillion doing what they do best." Indeed you do.

E-Dub | 4/5 |


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