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Marillion - Live At The Walls CD (album) cover





3.56 | 65 ratings

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4 stars During the period of finishing up the Radiation album, Marillion played a couple of acoustic sets at (of all places) a restaurant called The Walls. One thing that leaps out is how well Marillion's music translates to an acoustic setting. Very elegant in arrangement, although it's odd to hear silverware and glasses clinking in the background. Nonetheless, an essential piece for the Marillion completist.

The disc starts off with 3 songs from Afraid Of Sunlight-- "Beautiful", "Beyond You", and "Afraid Of Sunrise". The latter two don't get played live very often, so this is especially welcomed as they perform the songs flawlessly and packed with the emotion that was originally presented to us on the phenomenal Afraid Of Sunlight album.

It may have been nice to have more songs from Brave; however, the two representatives are more than enough to maintain the interest in the set. "Runaway" sounds absolutely amazing acoustically. Missing are the soaring keyboards and Rothery's haunting solo, but still very effective. "Alone Again In The Luxury" has a bit of a reggae groove and may sound too bouncy for the subject matter. They perform it again on the DVD A Piss-Up In A Brewery which is much better.

Unplugged At The Walls also presented an opportunity to introduce (then) new songs from their upcoming album, Radiation. "Now She'll Never Know" showcases Hogarth's beautiful vocals (as he hits on all notes without a hitch), and Trewavas and Rothery switching instruments. Frankly, I think "These Chains" would've been great to include. Just one minor criticism. "Answering Machine" is another "new" song. Good performance, but just not a personal favorite of mine. Don't hate it, but doesn't have the Wow factor.

One of the more moving performances is Marillion's cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees", which is beautifully done by the band. Hogarth especially shines as he performs it with utmost respect for the band. A surprising, yet powerful moment. Great selection for a cover-- as you'll see later on they take on a couple of other more classic covers on.

Disc 1 is rounded out by a rare performance of "Holloway Girl" from Seasons End, and "King" from Afraid Of Sunlight. First, "Holloway Girl" just strikes me. Very subdued and quiet, as it's sung about a woman wrongly imprisoned at the all femal prison in north London. Beautiful piano work by Mark Kelly, and great vocals by Hogarth.

Prior to "King", H asks where everyone is from, and it's amazing how many people traveled from all over the globe to see this intimate show. The band eases into "King", and it doesn't pack the punch of the original; however, the guitar solo is replaced by the hammond organ-esque solo of Mark Kelly. Not a highlight, from the disc; but, still a nice inclusion.

Disc 2 begins with "The Answering Machine", and two more songs from the Afraid Of Sunlight album-- "Gazpacho" and "Cannibal Surf Babe". As with "Lap Of Luxury", this sounds a bit too bouncy, but nonetheless enjoyable to the ears, accentuated with beautiful piano work by Kelly during the chorus. "Cannibal Surf Babe" on the other hand, is a quirky little number that never ceases to get the crowd bouncing. Even in a quiet setting like this, you can hear the enthusiastic crowd clapping along with the band.

Now on to a couple of covers. H and Pete come back for a version of The Beatles' "Blackbird", which is nicely done and showcases Pete's acoustic work. The show stopper, however, is Donovan's "Abraham, Martin, and John". I think the first time I heard this I had tears welling in my eyes. Anyone who says H isn't an emotional singer needs only to listen to this. Rothery also breaks out the electric for the first (and only time) and just makes the guitar cry. Absolutely hear wrenching!

The set closes out with "Hooks In You", but in a much different style than the more rocking pop original. The band arranges it in more of a jazzy feel. Completely different than the original version. "Eighty Days" fittingly brings this to a close, as it's a song written for the fans.

So, in essence, what you have here is Marillion unplugged. It's been done many times in the past and I'm sure bands will always explore a more stripped down version of themselves. Not all bands can successfully pull it off. Marillion, however, proves that they can zig as well as zag, and take something that could be redundant, and just totally re-invent themselves. I give it anywhere from 3.75 stars to 4. A must for the Marillion fan.

E-Dub | 4/5 |


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