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4 stars Marbles seems to be the Marillion album that's liked by people who don't really care for the band. I think that's because of two reasons. First off, the band have been trying to find a "independent" rock sound somewhat akin to bands like Radiohead, and two, because they actually succeeded in developing a very organic and sincere musical formula that showcases itself in Marbles.

I suppose the attraction of a live album from a band like Marillion is the thrill of listening to them perform " without a net". The net being the comfort of the studio where any mistakes or flubs can be fixed. What is immediately striking is how well Hogarth's vocals warm up, after the first few songs, to allow him to go into near dog whistle highs, while Steve Rothery effortlessly reproduces his manifold guitar leads, his playing often a duet with Hogath's vocals on songs like "Drilling Holes" and the epic closer "Neverland".

What's also interesting is the Dutch audience's familiarity with the Marbles' material. What's more interesting is the crowd clapping in 4/4 time to the opening stanzas of the song "Genie" before the band shift gears and go into a slower time signature for the song's remaining verses and chorus, as the hard to follow beat causes the mass clapping to immediately cease, showing that Marillion's music, fortunately, still can't be danced to.

The band never misses a beat on this double CD live offering of Marbles (the previous live Marble album concerts being truncated single CD editions), and the sound, as usual for Marillion live albums, is stellar. I can only see this album appealing to diehard fans of the studio album, but for those who view that album as a 5 star masterpiece, Marbles In The Park is essential.

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Posted Saturday, January 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars You really don't have to buy a new Marillion studio album. You only have to wait until the band's tour on the road to promote the new album and then buy the live performance of the new album (with the bonus of extras materials which comes with the new music). This is because the band have been playing together for forty years. They can be compared to a classical music string quintet in the way they execute the music. On stage each performer's instrument is an extension of the arm of the other band member's instrument, while Hogarth's lyrical style of delivery (you either love his voice or hate it) serves the purpose of the music. By the time the band gets to perform the new album all the nuances of the music have been explored and improved upon and you get to hear a superior product.

The above is a general rule. There are one or two exceptions. Marbles is that exception. The single CD edition of the Marbles studio album is the best work of the Hogarth Marillion era and should be celebrated as their finest work. Any highlights package of the H era music would have to include Fantastic Place and Neverland. I would personally add You're Gone, which is a perfect bridge between the intro, The Invisible Man and the slow Angelino. I've never been sold on the Marbles double album studio edition which includes Ocean Cloud. Ocean Cloud is a piece of Space Rock, rather like early Pink Floyd with some David Gilmour type guitar runs from Steve Rothery. Impressive as it is I don't feel it belongs on the Marbles studio album. However here on the live album, Marbles In The Park, the song is fine and works well with the other songs which have been rearranged in appearance order for the audience. With Drilling Holes, you get an interesting back story of it's writing which stems from the early days when Hogarth joined the band and they were recording the Seasons End album. Fish issued the band members with writs. Steve Hogarth was the only one not being sued.

Marbles is Hogarth's best work with Marillion. This live album doesn't quite match the studio album in brilliance. However, it works well as a narrative promoting the album and the audience in Holland would have found themselves in a fantastic place lapping up the familiar music.

Report this review (#2408513)
Posted Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Review Permalink

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