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Marillion - Live From Cadogan Hall CD (album) cover





3.93 | 52 ratings

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4 stars Easter for Christmas

"Live from Cadogan Hall" is a Christmas-Concert from Marillion during their "Less is more"-Tour and, together with "Anorak in the UK", one of a pair of Live-Albums from the Hogarth-Era that is simply a "must have", cause it captures the atmosphere of a live-performance by this band in marvelous perfection and sees this five-piece of great musicians performing at the top of their skills - but while "Anorak" is electrified and rousing, "Cadogan Hall", because of its "unplugged"-approach and guise, is enchanting in a quieter and more intimate way. To make sure: this time, other than on "Marbles Live", Hogie's singing is brilliant and the overall feel is more than right, it's another one of those examples where the "magic of the moment" can be felt so deeply it sends you shivers up and down your spine and serves as a showcase for why people like me simply cannot get enough of this band !

Disc 1 gives you the whole of "Less is more" ( minus its "Bonus Track" ) performed on stage, and most of those acoustically re-vamped tracks clearly benefit from the live-feel and setting, especially "Go !" and "Interior Lulu" at the very beginning sound fresher and somewhat more intriguing, though there's, of course, no significant changes to be heard compared to the studio-recordings. This live-performance comes close to making the studio-album, great as it is, a superfluous one, but - in the end - because of some parts still being inferior, it doesn't. Those parts are, first of all, "Hard as Love", which is the very stand-out-track on "Less is more", and could not be re-produced quite as impressive simply because the vocal-arrangement hadn't been made to do so... they'd have needed one more voice at least in order to achieve this. Next is "This is the 21st Century" which suffers a bit from the guitars being slightly out of tune, though this version does possess more passion. And, as you know, I'm in love with the "Bonus Track" that's missing here - "Cannibal Surf Babe" - and missing it is, indeed ( though with "Live from Cadogan Hall" you'll get a whole disc of "Bonus"-Material instead... ) so "Less is more" is still far from having been made superfluous by the sheer brilliance of this live-performance elsewhere. This said, the rest of it is at least as good as on album, if not - as apparent with the beginning - even better, and therefore it's not really a loss that "Hard as Love" doesn't work quite as well as there ...and instruments sounding slightly out of tune as one part of a show comes to its close... well, that's LIVE, and it's no real miss at all as the feel remains just right.

Disc 2 starts out with Hogie performing "No One can" alone to piano. And, god in heaven, this version is far more than a reminder of what, so many years ago, had made me love and purchase the single as a first encounter with this incarnation of the band. Hogie simply takes the song to where it always should have been... let's call it "Marillion-Heaven". It's nothing less than a classic now, since this rendition, belonging to the very best of the band - and I wouldn't have expected it to be although I used to have a soft spot for it for years... you may not expect it, either, but believe me, it's true. It's followed by "Beautiful" - I already knew this arrangement from "Unplugged at the Walls", although I do not own that disc. I got the elder recording with the "Man of a thousand Faces"-Maxi and immediately had fallen in love with it. It's staying pretty much the same here, absolutely beautiful, but it's got a little more pathos due to the atmosphere in the Hall, and that's what's making it slightly inferior to me. "This Train is my Life" is, once more, an improvement to an already magnificent original version, magically soaring until you can't get it out of your head anymore. Then come 4 songs that add drive to the show, all of them executed a little faster than expected, and all of them played and sung very well. The increasing speed does not take any impact out of "You're gone", while "80 Days", "Gazpacho" and "The answering machine" do not really benefit from it, but what's good about them all is... you can hear the band having hell of a good time and the spark is taking over the audience. "Gazpacho", though, leaves me feeling a little sorry, cause this may even have been the definite version of another "AOS"-song for me that, on album, left me dissatisfied, if only... slowed down just a little bit.

Then comes "Estonia" with, during its verses, somewhat a lack of instrumental body, but comes the refrain and, after the second one, the instrumental section it's brilliant at least in parts, setting the mood for the finale. And the final two bits, namely "Easter" and "Three Minute Boy", are so hauntingly beautiful again, it's mind-dazzling and absolutely justifying one more 4-star-rating. It could have been a 5-star, but those little bits that are less perfect do not really affect the overall great impression that this concert leaves upon me. It's but another one that really "screamed to be released"... an essential purchase for any Lover of this band and, for those who still don't know how good they are with "the new singer since 20 years" and have an affection for "unplugged" music... a very good place to start with in order to get to know this band and why it's being loved so much by the devoted. Prog ? Hell, sometimes yes, sometimes no, but MUSIC as it was meant to be for anyone who has a heart. In terms of sheer potency that all the five members of this band reveal in playing and performing as well as daring creativity... there can be no better prog-band on this planet. And if "Easter" in its "Christmas-Version" doesn't leave you standing in awe completely you sure do not deserve the original version that. indeed, is more recognizable "progressive rock music" but not a bit better, no. So much stuff on these two discs I would never do without and still, if it was only for that one - I'd spend the double amount of money that it actually costs only to have it.

I'll always remain a die-hard fan of BJH so no other band can ever take the place that those underrated "soft-rockers" hold in my life - because of that kind of emotion they and only they can evoke inside of me. And, if I had to choose only one "best band" in terms of an "objectively chosen one", it may supposedly be Genesis. But Marillion, in spite of those two, may be the best band this world has ever got to succeed in both categories. I'm overwhelmed once more cause I never would have thought this when I heard "Script" or the likes of "Kayleigh" for the first time in the 80s. These guys are a gift to music itself and therefore a great gift to mankind. May it one day be appreciated the way they truly deserve, honestly, and long may they soldier on !



rupert | 4/5 |


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