Somewhere In London (DVD)
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/04/2011
In a sense, it seems odd that, just a few years after Marillion captured their live experience for their album Marbles, they would do the same thing with their next studio disc, Somewhere Else. Then again, seeing that Steve Hogarth and crew had tasted their first real success in some time with Marbles, and that resurgence of popularity (across the pond, at least – American audiences have been kept too busy with watered-down pop crap) seemed to be just the thing to capture at the end of another tour.
Somewhere In London isn’t quite as dynamic a film as Marbles On The Road was, but it does capture Marillion having a little more fun with their audience, and serves as a reminder of not only how good this band is, but how much it truly is a collective rather than one or two soloists fronting a group.
More than half of Somewhere Else is featured in this video, filmed at the London Forum over two nights, and (warning: major admission coming up) for someone who has yet to listen to this particular album, I have to say my first tastes were quite impressive. Tracks such as “The Wound,” “No Such Thing,” the title song and the amazingly beautiful “Faith” all show that while topping the Billboard charts might be eluding this band, they are more concerned with writing and performing good quality music.
Maybe it was the fact that the tour was wrapping up and the band could enjoy time back at home, but the group, in particular Hogarth, keyboardist Mark Kelly and guitarist Steve Rothery, seem to be the loosest on stage, even interacting with the crowd as they bat around confetti-filled balloons during “Between You And Me.” For a band whose music is incredibly soul-searching yet far from dreary, seeing Marillion with wide grins on their faces (matching their audience) is heart-warming.
Yet there is a difference between this concert and Marbles On The Road – namely, the audio doesn’t seem to be quite as crisp as its predecessor – and while it’s still good, it’s a little distracting at times. Where Marbles On The Road felt like an intimate picture of the group, Somewhere In London doesn’t have as warm of a feeling about it.
Still, the sight of the band kicking back a bit, along with a mostly solid set list (including some buried gems like “Man Of A Thousand Faces” and “Splintering Heart”) more than make up for the minor flaws of this set. (I could, however, have lived without hearing “King” again – sorry, but I have not warmed up to this particular track – and it would have been nice to have had a little more variety in the back catalog. Not that I’m complaining about hearing “Between You And Me” and “You’re Gone” again.)
The second disc of the set contains the diamonds in the rough, including Hogarth leading the audience in a rendition of “Sugar Mice” – hey, look! A Fish-era song! – and even seemingly changing the set list on the fly, causing Rothery to have to change guitars on two occasions. While I would have liked to have heard Hogarth handle “Sugar Mice” solo, the power of the crowd singing this and “Easter” was phenomenal. Let’s see a crowd over here match that!
The featurette of fans being welcomed into the Racket Club for a short, intimate set by Marillion was interesting, but I’d have liked to have heard a little more interaction from the band with the fans. Some does come at the end, when everyone is preparing to part ways, and maybe it was a little off-putting to have outsiders in their sanctum sanctorum, but for a once-in-a-lifetime event, I’d have liked to have seen the band almost in light conversation with the attendees.
Somewhere In London might seem a little repetitive to an outsider not familiar with Marillion, especially following just three years after another live DVD. But even though it’s not quite on par with its predecessor, it is still a worthwhile way to spend an evening, and definitely holds up to repeat viewings.