There is a place in London of the United Kingdom that is down in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that used to be the first Church of Christ. However, throughout the years the populace decreased that flowed into the church and it became a shell of its former self. Still a goregous location, in 2001 it became home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. That building is called Cadogan Hall. Fast forward to 2009, a band called Marillion decided to play there which led to this 2011 release.
Marillion is classified as neo-progressive rock music. If you are not in the know, you might ask yourself, what the heck is neo-progressive rock music? Well according to what I could find, it is deeply emotional music with dramatic lyrics and an almost theater like quality on stage. One really won’t see guitar and drum solos on the spur of a moment. They will be carefully staged with help from other instruments such as keyboards and percussion. If you are thinking of influences such as Genesis or Yes, you would be in the right area.
Marillion was an early pioneer of this music. They have been together since the late seventies and are probably the only band the genre can really claim as a mainstream success. Their core group has been basically unchanged since the mid 80’s. Steve Rothery is the sole original member from the late seventies and handles lead guitar whether electric or acoustic. Handling bass guitars is Pete Trewavas and on keyboards is Mark Kelly. On drums and percussion is Ian Mosley who has been with the band since the mid 80’s.
The newest member is actually the lead singer who has been with the band since 89 and his name is Steve Hogarth. That’s your band. This concert is promoting their album Less is More which was released in the same year as the concert. The band decided to put a spin on their previous work by going on tour with the acoustic sound. With that little bit of history out of the way, let us dive onto the concert floor.
The music starts out interestingly enough with a single note on the piano. Hogarth or “H” (as commonly called) lets the note fade out before he starts the tune Go! Then they proceed to play the album (which is a compliation of songs from previous efforts done in acoustic form) in order from Go! to This is the 21st Century. They forgot their hidden track, Cannibal Surf Babe, I’m so hurt.
That’s the first dvd actually. The second dvd contains other songs from their illustrious career and would probably make for a decent 2nd bonus cd. But, as wonderful as the backing music is, one thing keeps picking away at me. Since I’ve already mentioned him a couple of times, we’ll start with my number one problem with this music, the lead singer, H.
Goodness gracious is he boring. The drums and guitar can be certainly described as uplifting, they even have a delicate groove to them. But Hogarth is one of the most soft spoken individuals I have ever listened to. Have I mentioned I am a complete introvert? His singing voice can be described as nasally annoying which is a shame when the guitars and keyboards are so beautiful. When he stops to talk to the audience, it’s even worse and I think I heard several audible snores when he went too long in his intro.
Kidding aside, I find it interesting that the album this tour is focused on is called Less is More. Sure, that is calling out the acoustic nature but if you watch them on stage, they use a ton of instruments. Besides the basics, I spotted guitars of all shapes and sizes, dulcimers, glockenspiels, xylphones and even an autoharp. Was the kitchen sink missing that day in the instrument closet? Seriously, they should have followed their own album title rather try to go through the entire musical instrument library.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. It’s interesting to note that the runtime is 127 minutes spread across two discs. This reminds me of a dvd concert by Nine Inch Nails that was called And All That Could Have Been which was also only a couple of hours and spread over two discs. Though there are no extras here, Trent of NIN mentioned it was coded on a mac and the software only allowed for so many minutes per disc.
Cut back into this Marillion effort and we see Hogarth on his apple pc during the show. I’m going to take a stab and say he was probably using the same procedure as Trent was. The point is (I know, I know) this method allows for completly uncompressed video and the best presentation possible. It is excellent for sure, and colors sure flow in and out of the hall. Close up, it does qualify as amazing but with long shots they are okay at best. Oddly enough, this are my same criticisms of the Nine Inch Nails concert. Coincidence, I think not.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-Track (PCM also Included). As usual, we get a fantastic effort on a music disc producer by the fine folks at Eagle Rock Entertainment. Music hits the speakers with a wonderful intensity and I didn’t really notice any problems. Surrounds are used well and the only knock would be the quietness of Hogarth’s speaking voice. I’m going to attribute that to the man himself rather than the audio. Also of note, the DTS track is not the default track, so be sure to use your audio selector.
I made the mistake of listening to some of Marillion’s earlier music before I listened to this performance. That music was recorded with their original lead singer, Fish. I liked what I heard. But since Steve Hogarth took over, the music has changed somewhat and with this new album, they took the extra step and went acoustic. So, I’m sad to report, this didn’t do it for me at all. My wife was sitting next to me at the time I watched it and said the same exact thing of the performance. The music is good, the lead singer not so much. Diehards of the group will probably eat this alive but to the average viewer, I can’t extend an recommendation.