Marillion 2015 Montreal Convention

My wife and I just got back from the Marillion Convention and once again had a great time.  But who wouldn't, being fans of the band, seeing three 2+ hour shows over three nights, totally different set lists, all for the price of $150.
The Conventions have always featured a performance of one of their albums, but last convention as with this one, two albums were featured.  Friday night was Anoraknophobia, Saturday was Marbles and Sunday was the surprise.

The performance of the band was not as good as other times I've seen them.  Guitarist Steve Rothery, and Keyboardist Mark Kelly seemed a little out of it and there were plenty of mistakes.  Don't get me wrong, they are human and the mistakes didn't detract from the show, but it was interesting to note.  (I later read up that the band had been feeling under the weather but were getting better.) They attempted to open the night with the song "Montreal" but had to stop half way through due to technical problems with their in ear monitoring system.  After about 5 minutes they came back out and started up "Between You and Me".  Normally this song rawks, but it seemed a little lack lustered.  Other rockers such as "Seperated Out" also suffered the same fate to my ears.  Mellower tunes like "When I Meet God" and "This is the 21st Century" faired better.  For me, things didn't pick up until the album closer "If my Heart were a Ball it Would Roll Uphill".  This songs features some of vocalists Steve Hogarths worst lyrics but features a laid back heavy groove not normally associated with Marillion, but they pull it off and it has become one of my favorite songs by the band.  Over all, it's quite possible that my slightly negative reaction to most of the performance is due to my less favorable opinion of most of the album as it's more of a Pop album as opposed to an Art Rock album.
With the conclusion of "Ball", the band left the stage for a few minutes to come back out for the obligatory encores.
For anyone in the audience that was new to Marillion who thought they might only be a Pop/Rock band, they were treated to the Prog side with performances of the lengthy "This Strange Engine" followed by "Gaza".  Both performed extremely well, better than Anoraknophobia.  With the last lines of "Some day surely someone must help us...", the band waved and left the stage for the night.

Marbles is one of the bands best and it's certainly their most eclectic.  There's something for every one and this was evident in the performance of the album.  What made this performance even more special was the visual effects and images that accompanied the music.  Opener "Invisible Man" was amazing with vocalist Steve H's face appearing on the screen singing the opening verse while his face slowly disintegrated.  Other standouts for me were "Ocean Cloud" with it's visuals of the sea, sky and stars.  Pop song "You're Gone", their most dance oriented song, was a nice change up in style which got everyone moving and grooving.  Album closer "Neverland" was as always fantastic.
Marbles was then followed by two songs off of Afraid of Sunlight, "Out of this World" and "King", both played fantastic with the latter showing images of celebrities who had died before their time.
The final song of the evening was "Sounds that Can't be Made".  When the band had finished, the audience continued to sing the guitar melody.  The band joined in on their instruments before bringing the evening to a close.
Over all, I felt that this was a better night for the band, both in material and in performance.

The show started off with a surprise with eight Fish era songs, "Market Square Heroes", "Garden Party", "Kayleigh", "Lavender", "Heart of Lothian", "Warm Wet Circles", "Suger Mice" and "Incommunicado".  For fans of the band, we know how special this is as the band doesn't often perform this amount of songs from their earlier catalogue.  By this point I surmised that they were performing songs off of albums in album order.  The next songs were "Hooks in You", "Uninvited Guest", "No one Can" and "Dry Land".  By then I had figured out that they were playing songs which were released as singles or promotion.  At this point there was less of a surprise for me as I knew which songs from which albums were used.  Nevertheless I enjoyed the show.
Additional highlights were "Whatever is Wrong with You", "Man of a Thousand Faces" and the closer "Three Minute Boy".

As a side note, I have noticed that for the past few conventions, the bass had been more prominent in the live mix, much the way it has been on the "Marbles ", " Happiness is the Road " and " Sounds That Can't be Made " albums.  This had made songs like "Neverland", "Gaza", and "Sounds That Can't be Made" extremely rich and huge sounding.  This time around, the bass was less evident which made for an arguably clearer sound, but lacked the richness.  I'm sure for most people this wasn't an issue and almost wasn't for me except in the above songs.

Overall it was a great show and I do recommend these conventions to anyone who likes Marillion or their music on the arty side.


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