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Marillion - Brave Live 2013 CD (album) cover

BRAVE LIVE 2013

Marillion

Neo-Prog


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lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Brave the album was originally issued way back in 1993, and remains to this day a towering work of emotion, imagination, and sheer and utter demanding storytelling, so when the definitive live version was promised by the band in 2013, this was a must buy for me.

You know, one of the strangest, and, indeed, most unfair criticisms of Steve Hogarth as a successor to Fish as lead vocalist is that he somehow lacks the theatricality and showman style of the giant Scot, that somehow he is not quite "prog" (however you define that!). Well, this DVD, recorded live at the Netherlands Marillion Weekend in 2013, should put all such comments and points into the dustbin of oblivion.

This performance drips with emotion. It is a theatrical performance that simply oozes feeling and tells the tragic story of the young lady who threw herself from Bristol Suspension Bridge (based upon an actual incident that H had heard on the radio one day), so much so that, really, by the end, you are exhausted.

From the opening strains of Bridge, to the incredible noise created by Living With The Big Lie, Hogarth ripping the heart from flowers in Runaway, the descent into drug induced horror that has him made up with pigtails and lipstick, to the crushing emotion of Hard As Love, the empty social agency "help" of Hollow Men, the swanking of Paper Lies, right to the shockingly emotional Brave and The Great Escape, with candelabras duly lit and extinguished in honour of the dead girl, this really has it all.

At the close, Hogarth States to the audience that all that preceded was a little bit "bleak", and explains the uplifting tale that is Made Again, which features at its heart representatives of over 200 countries, with their flags, singing along live on stage.

But, unlike the days of yore, this is not only about the lead.man, as good as he is, because this band have matured into probably the best live act playing progressive rock in the world. I mean that, they are that good. Trewavas and Moseley form an incredible rhythm section, with drums and bass quite simply thundering all the way threw. Mark Kelly's keyboard work is never anything less than incredible, and, of course, we have, in Steven Rothery, a man who not only makes a guitar sing, but makes you cry with joy when you hear the thing.

The performance of Brave is, indeed, the definitive one, as it says on the DVD cover, and, as such, is utterly essential, and a five star masterpiece.

That, though, is not all. We also get a second disc, with a trip through the band's vast repertoire. It is great to see tracks such as Rich and The Damage get an outing. The former I have only seen live once, on the album tour. The old favourites from the Fish era are Warm Wet Circles and Slainte Mhath, both of which H has really made his own. Elsewhere, we have the staggering Out of this World (the extras also have a film of this), Seasons End, The Space, and the usual crowd pleasers such as Hooks in You and Cover My Eyes. All of these are played with sheer gusto, and you wonder just how this lot manage to do this length of gig three times over the live weekends.

The second disc is merely excellent, or four stars in PA parlance. So, how to rate it overall? Well, I must say that if you are a fan, this is a must buy, it is indispensable, simple as. If you want to explore the band, or want to go back after an absence, look no further than this. It is wondrous.

Marillion on this show just why they are still in the Premier League of prog rock after more than 30 years of existence now. It is because they can play. It is because they make meaningful music. It is because they have a bond with their fans like no other act.

Four stars here, but, in reality, four and a half if we had such a rating. It comes extremely highly recommended.

Report this review (#1093175)
Posted Friday, December 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Brave is a Marillion album with a truly unique atmosphere, feeling like a piece apart from the rest of their discography. Their very best live performances of the entire album recapture that atmosphere. Brave Live 2013 doesn't. Possibly this is down to this performance of the album feeling less like the welcome return of a long-lost old friend that the first Brave Live was, so much as it feels a bit more like business as usual. (It doesn't help that there's still a brace of H-era studio albums that haven't been given the Marillion Weekend treatment - marillion.com, Somewhere Else, Happiness Is the Road.)

The value of this set is upped slightly by a brace of songs on the encore, though the chosen songs don't seem to have much rhyme or reason to them (constrained, perhaps, by the other show concepts for the Marillion Weekend in question). Perhaps a better idea would be to try and find songs elsewhere in the Marillion catalogue which could smoothly slip into the Brave story to provide a sort of "Even Braver" setlist; as it stands, this feels like an exercise in going through some well-oiled but rather old motions.

Report this review (#1110758)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2014 | Review Permalink

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