Live From Loreley (DVD)
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/29/2011
It is sometimes amazing to see how much a band changes in just a few short years. Oh, sure, bands age a little, or get more soft around the middle, or maybe their chops change a bit to fit the ever-fickle popular tastes of the kids in the audience.
For Marillion, the changes are more subtle, yet strongly noticeable, on Live From Loreley, their second live video captured in Germany during their Clutching At Straws tour. If the band was already a cohesive unit just four years prior when Recital Of The Script was filmed, they have actually gotten that much tighter – and better – by this stage in their career.
Don’t think for a second that Marillion had “gone pop” just to sell a few thousand records. This is a band that has always followed their own nose musically, not the ass of another lemming headed up the pop charts, and if that meant they’d never go quintuple platinum, at least they had their dignity. And it is that dignity that is on display in front of about 20,000 diehard fans.
A welcome change is seeing guitarist Steve Rothery moving out from his stage gear to play to the crowd, and to even interact with his bandmates. Also a welcome change is that lead vocalist Fish has lessened the theatrics that defined his early stage persona. They’re still there, but are much more subdued.
One interesting addition is that of background vocalist Cori Josias (who, strangely, never gets much camera time). She does add more texture to the harmony vocals, but one has to wonder why she was brought in at this stage in the game.
If the studio albums seem to lack anything, it’s a little bit of excitement, and Live From Loreley pumps that into a lot of these tracks. What I noticed was that I got more excited about some of the older, longer songs like “Script For A Jester’s Tear” – the version here is superior to that on Recital Of The Script – while newer songs like “Warm Wet Circles” don’t benefit nearly as much from the live setting.
This isn’t to say that the newer (for the time) songs suffer. “Sugar Mice,” arguably one of Marillion’s most overlooked classics, is delivered with an amazing tenderness, while the suite of songs from Misplaced Childhood is thrilling to hear. (Possibly this is because the viewer knows that Fish’s time with the band was numbered; he would depart the group a year later.) Likewise, “Incommunicado,” “Assassing,” and “Slainte Mhath” all make the viewer wonder why Marillion never became superstars.
If there is one aspect to Marillion that gets criminally ignored, Live At Loreley makes this point clear: this is not a band with one star, or a band where each musician gets their chance to lead an overly-long wanking solo. No, Marillion is a functioning unit, with each band member adding just enough of their own talent to the mix so that the group as a whole benefits, not just themselves.
This may be nitpicking, but it would have been nice to have seen subtitles when Fish was addressing the crowd in German – I can only imagine trying to decipher what he was saying through his thick Scottish brogue.
Marillion were at the peak of their commercial popularity in 1987, and Live From Loreley captures what would turn out to be the closing of a chapter in Marillion’s history with a fantastic show.