Returning to the west London venue for the first time since 1994, the five-piece kicked off with the understated ‘Sounds that Can’t Be Made’. Diving straight into celebrity-gone-wrong epic ‘King’, it was clear from the off that this was going to be an unpredictable Marillion set.
Eschewing more obvious choices for – as admitted by Hogarth on Saturday night – their own personal favourites, this was a more measured performance from Marillion, with the show slowly unwinding as the evening progressed.
This included a welcome run through the haunting opening pairing of ‘Bridge’ and ‘Living with the Big Lie’ from 1994’s dark opus ‘Brave’. Swapping out ‘Runaway’ for top 40 single ‘No One Can’ on Friday night– aired for the first time in eight years – the band mixed up the set for those attending both shows, with Hogarth dedicating the latter to his wife.
Only looking back as far as 1989’s ‘Seasons End’ during the two-night stint - with ‘Easter’, ‘Berlin’ and in particular, b-side ‘The Release’ all receiving a rapturous response - it was in looking to the future that the evenings’ centrepiece came.
“We wrote an album, and it's coming out next year”, said Hogarth; “Here's a song from it”, he continued, introducing ‘Be Hard on Yourself’ from their forthcoming ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ album. Filled with the same cinematic twists and turns that made 2017's 'FEAR' such a success, it's a Marillion classic in waiting.
Despite every member playing their part in creating a sublime sonic tapestry, it was Steve Rothery’s other-worldly soloing that shone brightest, particularly during a spectacular ‘Neverland’ on night two. Fraught with emotion, the guitarist made every note soar until the tracks breath-taking crescendo.
Returning to ‘Brave’ once more for ‘Made Again’, which featured some deft soloing from bassist Pete Trewavas on acoustic guitar, the main sets closed on a high, with audience participation providing most of the rhythm.
Recalling their Royal Albert Hall shows, ‘The Leavers’ concluded with the crowd showered in ticker tape - the perfect accompaniment to an already stunning light show. The glorious closing ‘all one tonight’ section meanwhile, proved an apt coda to a fantastic night of music.
Signing off to not just the Apollo, but a worldwide audience watching via livestream, Hogarth said; “Thank you London, you've been quite incredible. What a great way to finish”, before concluding; “We can feel the love in the room. We’ve got something really special here, it's extraordinary. Thank you for coming.”
With thanks to Anne-Marie Forker for the picture. Visit Anne-Marie's site here.
Saturday's livestream is available here until 3rd December 2021. Marillion release new album ‘An Hour Before it’s Dark’ in early 2022. To pre-order, click here.