Recital Of The Script (DVD)

Marillion

EMI, 1983

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/28/2011

"The first time I started listening to Marillion's past work - namely, albums recorded with original vocalist Fish - I couldn't help but think that I was listening to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.” I wrote those words about Script For A Jester’s Tear, the debut album from Marillion, back in 2000.

Watching Recital Of The Script, the first home video from Marillion (captured at Hammersmith Odeon on the tour for that album), I’m more convinced than ever that Fish took more than a few lessons from Gabriel in terms of his stage presence. The final show featuring drummer Mick Pointer (and, as Fish announces from the stage, the final night of the tour), it showcases a young band who were already masters of their craft musically, but who seemed to over-rely on Fish’s animated stage presence.

Fish is, in essence, the jester featured on Script’s cover, as he bounds across the stage, seemingly exorcizing the lyrics from his soul as he sings them. If one didn’t understand the melancholia in the original album, Fish brings it front and center during songs like the title track, “The Web,” and “Forgotten Sons,” often using his own microphone and stand to hammer home certain imagery in the songs.

Other than Fish, only bassist Pete Trewavas has any real stage presence, So, it’s not a surprise that Fish has the yeoman’s share of working the crowd as the frontman, but one almost wishes that the other lads would have played at least a small role in building the excitement. Maybe it was the size of the Odeon stage – I don’t know, I’ve never been to that side of the pond – but I found myself wishing that Steve Rothery would interact more with the crowd, rather than lock himself in with his effects pedals.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

Of course, one listen to the crowd and you know that they don’t need any incentive to be excited. Just listening to them taking over the chorus of “Market Square Heroes,” one has to wonder just why the hell Marillion didn’t make it bigger than they did at the height of their career. Then again, Marillion has always maintained a loyal fan base, so this easily could be the first glimpse of that forming.

The casual listener might be scared away by Recital Of The Script on the grounds that it only features music from Script For A Jester’s Tear (although tracks from the Market Square Heroes EP are included – those have all since been on Script’s reissue), almost all the songs are mammoth in length, and there are no “hits” to speak of. Well, maybe…we’ll get to that in a minute. Diehard fans who hang on to every note of Marillion’s history will naturally love this, especially the bonus featurette of the band performing at the Marquee one year prior.

Let’s go back to that casual listener – yeah, you. Recital Of The Script is an important disc for Marillion in that it does capture Fish and crew in their “hungry youth,” almost seamlessly charging through their rather musically challenging works without missing a beat and daring you to follow along for the ride. Having followed the band since starting this site, I can honestly say it renewed my interest in the album these songs came from; I’ve tried listening to it again over the years and still found it difficult to listen to.

It also is the antithesis of all the pre-packaged crap that is out there. Yes, there are no three-minute pop songs here, and these songs dare to challenge you to pay attention and think about what you’re hearing and seeing. This, to me, is a good thing.

Yet, I must admit, getting through this in one sitting was something I found difficult to do, and ended up breaking it up over two nights’ viewing. And, as much as Recital Of The Script renewed my vigor for the early works of Marillion, I confess that I still found myself wishing that they had lopped off about two minutes of the performance of “Forgotten Sons,” as it just seemed to drag at times.

Is Recital Of The Script one of those DVDs I’ll be finding myself watching repeatedly? Honestly, no…then again, if you remember those halcyon days in ’83 well and have a special fondness for Script For A Jester’s Tear, your opinion might be slightly higher than mine. Still, this is the kind of disc that I will find myself watching when I need my faith in music for the sake of its own art form renewed, and while it’s a little long in the tooth, is an important historical piece in the history of Marillion.

Rating: B-

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Comments

by DaveWhitaker on March 28, 2011 01:55:46 PM
My favorite band - thanks for featuring them this week!

- Dave
by dvfounder on March 28, 2011 07:11:54 PM
Glad to be of service, Dave! Hope you enjoy the remainder of the reviews.

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© 2011 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.