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Marillion - Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987 CD (album) cover





4.47 | 96 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
4 stars Everyone that has heard or seen this band in the 80s knows they were capable of reproducing their studio albums just perfectly in a live context. Fish's voice still had its full range and his performance was always expressive and involved. The band didn't change or improvise much around the studio material but added just that extra bit of energy that makes a live rendition valuable.

With this boxset compiling 5 concerts from the 82-87 period we get a dazzling overview of their career. Each of these shows had previously been 'available' as bootlegs, but the sound quality in this box doesn't sound like bootlegs at all. All CDs sound great. Some even perfect, with all instruments well balanced and resonating loud and clear.

CD1: September 13, 1982, at Mayfair, Glasgow

A historical document. This must be the earliest recording of such quality. The sound is OK but a bit dry and the performance is a bit nervous and shaky. Maybe the guys didn't hear each other play very well, but fact is that they sound rather chaotic at times, with the drums often out of sync with the other instruments. Point of interest: definitely She Chameleon in its premature version, entirely different from the 1984 studio track. 2 stars

CD2-3: December 30, 1982, at Marquee, London

Three months later and this band's growth as a confident live unit is impressive. This is a very tight and energetic set presenting the entire Script album and the Marquet Square Heroes EP. In other words, every song they penned till that day. As a bonus you get the jamming fun of Margaret, a different version from the one that was previously available on the Cucumber Massacre 12". 4 stars

CD4: August 27, 1983, at The Thames Side Arena, Reading

Live at the renowned festival and man did they deliver. I wasn't there (without doubt playing Lego at the time) but my impression is that they really had the entire audience behind them. And what a forceful set. Grendel and Forgotten Sons come in a 'definite' version and also the early Assassing is interesting, with less keyboards and a different guitar bit in the middle. Great performance, with one Andy Ward from Camel on the drumkit! 4 stars

CD5: December 14, 1984, at Hammersmith Odeon, London

Come 1984, Marillion peaks for me with their harder-edged Fugazi album. This concert is every bit as stunning as Real to Reel, but the extended setlist makes this one of course much more fun. Point of interest is the try-out of a couple of Misplaced Childhood tracks. Those opening chords of Pseudo Silk Kimono send shivers down my spine, every time again. Incubus and Fugazi are brilliant closers. 5 stars

CD6: November 5, 1987, at Wembley Arena, London

Their gig in Brussels 2 days later was my first ever live concert! I was in total awe. The CD doesn't bring that experience back as my increasingly critical ears now hear Fish's voice missing some of its earlier range and precision. I'm also not a fan of female soul singers backing up rock bands. I wasn't a fan of those in 1987 neither, but I probably wasn't thinking straight from staring too long at Lisa Dalbello's mini-skirt during the opening act. We've all been 16 right? 3 stars here.

Superb boxset that makes me remember why these guys were my favorite band in my teenage years. The official 80s live albums either missed the duration and the coherence of a full concert experience. This boxset has 5 such experiences on offer. A must have for all freaks out there.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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