On the 13th October 2017, a singular event took place; Marillion played the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in their nearly 40 year long career. The band (for those of you that don't know, consisting of Steve Hogarth on vocals, guitar and keys, guitarist Steve Rothery, Mark Kelly on keyboards, bassist Pete Trevawas and Ian Mosley on drums) have played venues all over the world but never, until now, one of the most iconic.
The gig sold out in minutes but I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get a ticket and this 2 CD set is a vivid reminder of a fantastic performance. Blu-ray and DVD versions are also available, which capture the full visual splendour of the event with its mesmeric light show and accompanying media shown on a screen behind the stage.
The set itself is split into distinct parts. The first consists of 2016's ‘FEAR’, played in its entirety. The studio release marks a high point in the band's impressive catalogue and, played live, the subjects examined lyrically (the on-going refugee crisis across Europe in 'El Dorado'; the increasingly futile search for peace considered in 'Living in Fear'; the relationship between a band and their fans and the touring experience in 'The Leavers' and 'Tomorrow's New Country’; the battle to accept that we grow old and that passion and fire diminish in 'White Paper’, and the rise of power and greed inextricably linked to fabulous but ill-gotten wealth in Russia that’s explored in 'The New Kings') take on extra weight and relevance at the expense of, perhaps inevitably, losing a little of the nuanced subtlety of the recorded version, which showcases the technical brilliance of each band member.
For the second portion of the show, the band are joined by a string quartet, a flautist and a French horn player and the addition of classical musicians gives the songs, taken from the band's extensive and rich back catalogue, both a new lease of life and a certain gravitas, commensurate with the history laden surroundings.
The tracks played in this section date from Hogarth's earliest days in Marillion, through to 2004, and include 'The Space' and 'Easter', made hauntingly beautiful in its classical guise, taken from 1989's ‘Season's End’, the group's first album post-Fish; an excellent version of 'Afraid of Sunlight' from the album of the same name; 'The Great Escape' from 1994's ‘Brave’, the subject of a feature in Prog magazine recently, and the magnificently exquisite 'Neverland' from 2004's ‘Marbles’, which allows Rothery to display his superb guitar technique and sound.
Fans travelled from all over the globe for this gig and were richly rewarded by a stunning performance from a band who were, and still are, riding the crest of a wave in the wake of the overwhelmingly postive reception to ‘FEAR’. Marillion have several live albums to their name, recorded over the years but, as good as each of them is, none capture the essence of a group at the peak of their powers, nor the strength of the emotional bond between five individuals and their enduring fan base, quite as well as ‘All One Tonight’. Spectacular, remarkable, beautiful.
ALL ONE TONIGHT (LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL)
Review by Dave Uphill
72:27 & 77:00
27th July 2018
DISC ONE: 1) El Dorado; 2) Living in Fear; 3) The Leavers; 4) White Paper; 5) The New Kings; 6) Tomorrow's New Country
DISC TWO: 1) The Space; 2) Afraid of Sunlight; 3) The Great Escape; 4) Easter; 5) Go!; 6) Man of a Thousand Faces; 7) Waiting to Happen; 8) Neverland; 9) The Leavers V One Tonight
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Spectacular, remarkable, beautiful."