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Marillion - Curtain Call - A Live Archive 1983 - 1988 CD (album) cover





4.50 | 48 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the ultimate Fish era Marillion live experience. Forget anything about what I said in my review for La Gazza Ladra, for this blows that album right out the water. With this set, released through the Marillion Front Row Club, you don't get 1, but 3 different shows from the Fish era of the band from all different times from the band. You have one show from the Script for a Jester's Tear tour, one from the Misplaced Childhood tour, and one from the Clutching at Straws tour, and even though songs are repeated, you don't get tired of them as they are essentially different entities live. The band is fun to listen to and they perform the material extremely well and often add on to the music a different dimension that just makes it so much better than the studio experience. I can't truly express how much I love this box set and how much better a live band Marillion are than in the studio, but I'll give it a shot and I hope I don't come across as a fanboy.

The first show for this set is from their show in Baunatal, Germany on October 1, 1983. This is an especially unique show as this was their only live show to feature then transition drummer Jonathan Mover, who plays the Mick Pointer material in a much more dynamic and engaging fashion. The set list consists of the entire Script for a Jester's Tear album minus The Web, Three Boats Down from the Candy (a song rarely played live and gets a smashing rendition on this show), Market Square Heroes, Charting the Single, and a sneak peek on Assassing. The music is performed wonderfully, with Mover, although only given limited rehearsals, showing that he was no slouch on the drums. He hits the cymbals with skill, he fits perfectly with Trewavas, and if they had not found Mosley, I think that they would have chosen Mover to be the replacement for Mick Pointer.

Anyway, as you'll find quickly, the shows are filled with Fish talking to the crowd in between songs, giving introductions and often getting a nice reaction from the crowd. What you'll find quickly as well is that Fish likes to talk mainly about sex related topics. The most blatant one occurs right after Script for a Jester's Tear and right before Three Boats Down From the Candy, I'd hate to spoil the comedy, though. I have to say that this show has a great live feel, and I have only one minor complaint. Why did this have to be released on two discs? The show here is only 77 minutes long, enough to fill the entire set onto one cd. Only a minor complaint, though, and I won't make a big deal about it.

The second show on this album was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on February 3, 1986 at the height of the Misplaced Childhood tour. This show is also the longest presented on the set, clocking in at nearly two hours. It opens with a nice little segment from Emerald Lies and them seamlessly by the will of Fish's voice turns to Script for a Jester's Tear. Fish offers some more fantastic dialogue and interplay with the crowd, most notably in between Jigsaw and The Web, in which he talks... again... about something very sex related... and is none the less hilarious. This show has a nice balance between material from Fugazi and Script for a Jester's Tear before the real highlight of the show is performed, Misplaced Childhood in its entirety.

Now I must say, that this is the best version of Misplaced Childhood I have in live aspects. Everything about it is perfect. There's a nice balance of extended pieces and all the original power of all is not only retained, but only expanded upon and heightened to an experience to remember. Even after the finishing flourishes of White Feather finish, the band isn't truly done yet. After the album finishes, they play an epic 13 minute rendition of Fugazi, with a nice extended section during the, "Where are the prophets" section, in which Fish gives a nod to each member of the band, the most humorous of which is when he announces Trewavas as the "resident sex machine". Anyway, after Fugazi ends the band leaves for about a minute only to return and perform an encore. The encore to this show is first Punch and Judy, which is a nice and fast paced rendition of the original. It ends with Market Square Heroes, and it's a great interpretation of the classic Marillion set closer.

The final show of this set was recorded in Milan, Italy on January 26, 1988, at the height of the Clutching at Straws tour. What you'll find here is a nice balance of old and new material, with Clutching at Straws getting the main focus (as it should, because they were touring to promote that album). This set has the only official live release of the classic opening trilogy of Clutching at Straws, Hotel Hobbies/Warm Wet Circles/That Time of the Night (which are probably the best songs on CaS altogether) with Fish on vocal. The material played on this album is well performed and the extensions of songs and the dialogue between Fish and the audience is kept to a minimum, allowing for more music. The second disc opens with the second side of Misplaced Childhood in its entirety, as Fish describes before Waterhole is played, "all stories start at a bar". Once they finish another epic rendition of White Feather, the group takes their first step off stage...

... only to return to play a first encore of songs from the first side of Misplaced Childhood. In fact, the entire Misplaced Childhood album is played except for Pseudo Silk Kimono and Bitter Suite. The crowd participation during the chorus of Kayleigh is utterly amazing and only goes to show exactly how die-hard Marillion fans are. Once Fish's epic wailing of, "I was born with a heart of Lothian" concludes, the band takes another step off the stage for a few minutes... only to play a second encore, this time only playing two songs. The first played in the second encore is Incommunicado, which further shows the crowd at their most excited with a lot of crowd participation. All in all, a pretty interesting rendition of the crowd favorite. The final song of the final album of this set is Garden Party, which is played wonderfully by the band, and Fish really gets into it during the section in which he utters, "I'm rocking". And as the song ends, you wish it wouldn't stop because it's just so perfect.

In the end, this is probably my overall favorite live album ever released in terms of material played and how well played it was. While there are some minor technical glitches and some audio problems during the sets (they weren't recorded using professional recording methods other than from the sound desk), they don't really mar the overall quality and the magic that Marillion are able to create on the stage. They've always been a better band live where they can stretch their proverbial legs out and really get a groove going. I find no true faults with this collection and I recommend any fan of Marillion to find this album on the group's website. The only thing is, the set is a bit costly, but if you shop at the right time, you may find yourself getting a great deal on it (like me). The ultimate live experience that will satisfy anybody's appetite for Marillion. 5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |


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