Marillion Rock The Roundhouse In A Night Of Magic

Marillion, the previously deeply unfashionable prog rock pioneers turned national treasures, played The Roundhouse in Camden, London, for the first time in their history tonight, describing the venue as “what it would look like if the Albert Hall was knocked down and rebuilt really quickly.”

Marillion

The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023

Words: Liz Medhurst

Photography: Robert Sutton

This date is the last in the ten-day completely sold-out European jaunt. Billed as A Tour Before It’s Christmas, it keeps the momentum from 2022’s An Hour Before It’s Dark.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

The tours in recent years have been quite the event, whether augmented by extras such as string quartets or orchestra or playing the whole album in its entirety. Still, things were kept much simpler tonight with a varied and career-spanning setlist and some spectacular lighting making liberal use of lasers and glitterballs.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

The last couple of albums have been made up of extended suites or movements ideal for kicking back at home with snacks and drinks. You can really get absorbed. But these don’t always hold the attention live at a standing gig.

The genuinely devoted fan base is immensely tolerant, and to be fair, this doesn’t get abused. A Marillion gig is always on point and has immense value, which is probably why the fan base is so devoted.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

Tonight was pitched just right. A selection of fan favourites and tracks that were beautifully realised on stage, delighted diehard fans and the more casual observer.

With a lineup unchanged since 1989, they are one of the most stable groups around. The five-piece, supplemented by acclaimed percussionist Luis Jardim, appeared particularly happy and relaxed tonight between the expected intense and dramatic performance.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

Frontman Steve Hogarth was in particularly good form. A last night of the tour vibe was demonstrated when his trademark MIDI cricket bat failed to work. Having been reliable all tour to date, he hurled it across the stage in a playful manner, with no aggression at all.

It really was all about the songs tonight. The opener, Invisible Man, was a welcome return to the main set, not seen for over seven years, barring an occasional outing at a cruise or Marillion weekend. Easter will always be a highlight, showing how the band has a knack for writing modern anthems that capture the zeitgeist.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

It’s always going to be a difficult choice of what to include in a two-hour set with a vast catalogue. You will never please everyone. It was beyond me why they chose Beyond You to represent the Afraid Of Sunlight album over Out Of This World or Beautiful. But to be fair, it did fit well. Like all the others, it was a great performance.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

From the current album, it would have been criminal not to include Care, and this was stunning, with the Angels On Earth finale being truly magical. Elsewhere, hearing Quartz and Map Of The World was a joy and the encores of Neverland, Sugar Mice (pretty much entirely sung by the audience), and King was close to perfection.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

There are always messages in Marillion’s music, the lyrics complex, interesting and profound. It was the upbeat and positive messages peppered across several of the songs that really resonated tonight.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

It is much less bleak than some of the choices on the last tour, such as “Everyone I love is somewhere else” or “Remember a time when you thought you mattered?” Instead, we were left with hope, optimism and gratitude.

Marillion may not always give you what you want, but they have a knack for giving you what you need. Tonight, they did both.

Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk
Marillion - The Roundhouse, London - 26 November 2023
Marillion – The Roundhouse, London – 26 November 2023. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

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