Photo by Mike Rengel.
Marillion: the band that gives your heart a booster pack. An emotional night that can only be described as mutual communion. Many artists have great fans, but I’ve never been a part of anything like the way Marillion loves their fans as strongly and passionately as we love them. It’s a room full of strangers joined at the heart by these songs that emanate from and touch the soul.
This is a band that, at its core, is about connecting the metaphysical dots into powerful, soaring, lump in your throat moments of unfettered humanity that bind us. When I listen to Marillion, and even more so when I see them live, they remind me, in this ever increasingly coarse world, of the human potential to understand, forgive, seek, and love.
“El Dorado” crushed xenophobia. “The Leavers” spoke to the isolation of the touring musician and unshakable connection between artist and audience. Lead singer Steve “H” Hogarth was hoodie-cloaked and looking like an emo Jedi during a dramatic, cathartic “Mad.” “King” was a neutron bomb of a hymn to the way the commoditization of fame has cost lives and cut short artistic careers. The band dug out “Seasons End” to mourn our warming globe. Maybe their best song ever, the dramatic, explosive, and darkly/beautifully draining “The Invisible Man,” unexpectedly showed up in the encore (it’s usually a show opener). This show was, as H so perfectly put it, “the strength to melt our guns.”
“This Strange Engine” was a heartbreaking, MIDI cricket bat-equipped, squaring your upbringing with your present and future origin story in the second encore. (Including snippets of “Running Up That Hill.” Yes, many of these songs are 15 minutes long.)
H and guitarist Steve Rothery have never looked nor sounded better. Bassist Peter Trewavas was 1990 springy. My favorite little thing is that no matter where you set up shop, if you’re honest and open, you make new friends. I struck up a convo with my neighbor and forged a bond. Javier and his mate have lived in Tulsa for the last 15 years but last saw Marillion in Mexico in 1999. And we cheered and embraced and sang along like members of a secret club with a secret handshake that is sitting there for the taking, if you’re open to accepting it.
If you think I’m overselling it…try it. You might just discover a portal to a sonic hug; to a heretofore undiscovered part of yourself. “We come together—we’re all one tonight.” | Mike Rengel