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CHRISTMAS IN THE CHAPEL

Marillion

Neo-Prog


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4 stars Known for their live show, Marillion recorded a performance at the Union Chapel in London while on their Not Quite Christmas Tour of 2002. A set list comprising of classic songs from the Hogarth era, a cozy little venue, and a stunning light show makes for an amazing DVD collection.

Opening the set is the self-titled track from Seasons End, complete with H's "Emmanuel" solo at the beginning--what a way to start the show. There is every indication that the entire show is going to be something to behold.

Filmed on the Anoraknophobia tour, it stands to reason that there should be a nice little collection from the album. "Between You And Me", "Quartz", "This Is The 21st Century", and the beautiful "Map Of The World" dominate the first half of the show. All performed with the utmost professionalism and dynamics one can expect from Marillion.

Although the new stuff are at the beginning, they do manage to work in classics like "Man Of A 1,000 Faces", "Uninvited Guest", and "Beautiful". Additionally, we also catch a glimpse of H's wit and sense-of-humor. One of the funniest is when an audience member shouts, "How's Ian coping without cigarettes," right at the moment he lights up. H replies, "I'll ask him," and after a long pause goes, "He says it's much much easier lately."

After a scorching version of "This Town/The Rakes Progress/100 Nights" and the enchantment of "The Great Escape" closes out the first half, Marillion breaks into the first keyboard intro parts to "Mad" from Brave, and it could be one of the most powerful versions of that song I've ever witnessed. The band just punishes their respective instruments as Hogarth engages the crowd with intensity and fire. You know he's performed it hundreds of time; however, the fire is still in his eyes.

If there is one knock against this DVD, it's the wear and tear on H's vocals, which is evident on "Afraid Of Sunlight", as he has a tough time hitting the high notes during the close of the song. That, however, cannot take away an otherwise emotional performance of an already powerful and beautiful song. Truly one of the most heart wrenching ever written.

Probably the biggest highlight is the epic "This Strange Engine", which meets with a thunderous applause upon it's introduction, thus securing it's place as a fan favorite. What a performance of this magnificent song, too. One of Marillion's longest songs, Hogarth appears physically and emotionally exhausted after the gut wrenching conclusion. Definitely one of Marillion's best during an otherwise lackluster period for the band.

The DVD comes to a conclusion with the crowd pleasing "Easter" and "Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven)". Nothing noteworthy about these concert staples. As a collection, however, Christmas In The Chapel is just one of those special DVD's showcasing a band doing what they do best: overpower a crowd. Definitely a spectacle for which I never tire.

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Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink

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