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Marillion - Happiness Is Cologne CD (album) cover





3.80 | 31 ratings

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3 stars For the Happiness Is the Road tour (and their subsequent tours) Marillion took the bold step of recording each and every gig and putting downloads of them on their website. A clever way to counteract bootlegging, to be sure, and if they do the same for the London gig I'm seeing them at this year I'll be sure to buy the download because it will be a fantastic souvenir of the evening. But what if you aren't a big enough Marillion fan to download all the Happiness shows (and believe me, you need to be a much bigger Marillion fan than I am to even contemplate that), but you still want some sort of record of the Happiness tour? How do you pick out one of the shows if you didn't go to one yourself?

Happiness is Cologne seems to be the band's solution to this - picking out one of the shows, giving it nice shiny new artwork and making it available for download or as a physical CD, with this release they're basically picking out the Cologne E-Werk show from the tour and offering it as a particularly fine recording from the series. Effectively, they're saying "If you only listen to one show from the Happiness tour, listen to this one", and whilst I haven't heard all the others and probably won't bother I have to say it's a pretty set, with plenty of interaction with the crowd, a wonderful atmosphere, and great performances.

Inevitably, a sizable portion of the setlist consists of selections from Happiness Is the Road itself, and this may be one of the most Happiness-heavy Marillion releases you can expect to come across, unless they decide to do the entire album live for one of the Marillion weekends or something. This is the main weakness of the album which makes it merely good, only great. It's not that the Happiness Is the Road material is bad, per se, it's just that the recording captures the group when they are still in the process of getting to grips with the material in a live context. Whilst Marillion have a fair share of material which, after a mixed reception at first, ended up becoming firm favourites when refined in a live context - think of the cuts from Happiness In Eden or Radiation which have become live standbys over the years - this doesn't seem to have happened with so much of the material from Happiness, suggesting that they may have struggled to capture it live, and they seem to struggle at points here.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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