Marillion – Live From Cadogan Hall – Album Review

Review: Billy Geary

Marillion at iTunes   Live albums are always tricky things to make, even trickier when you elect to strip your songs right back to the barest of forms. They serve as the true test of an artist, because if an artist cannot replicate their music well in a live setting, it is very hard for them to be a successful act. Thus, upon hearing that Britain’s daggiest band had gone and recorded an all-acoustic show, it was met with more than a small amount of trepidation. However, Live From Cadogan Hall sees Marillion in perfect touch. Live, the band is almost unfaultable, with the five-piece recreating their music in acoustic form brilliantly.

Recorded in late 2009, Live From Cadogan Hall features two sets, comprising of Less is More in its entirety, as well as another set of other acoustically reworked tracks from their back catalogue. From the opening cheer from the crowd, it is clear this recording finds Marillion at the top of their game. Throughout, Marillion’s performance is first class, showing that, while they might be a little daggy, they can still put on ahell of a performance. Front man Steve Hogarth does an excellent job, with plenty of audience interaction. In fact, one of the great parts about this release is the time Hogarth spends giving little anecdotes about each of the songs.

Songs such as ‘Hard As Love,’ a song that in its original form on their 1994 release Brave saw Marillion at their most aggressive is a totally different song in its new format. To quote vocalist Steve Hogarth, ‘the song has taken on a whole new meaning.’ This is one of the great aspects of Live at Cadogan Hall, instead of simply recording themselves playing a run of the mill set, Marillion have taken a chance and stripped their songs right back and subsequently improving them in the process.

Live From Cadogan Hall’s true strength lies in the instrumentation used throughout the tracks. Using what seems like every acoustic instrument under the sun, Steve Hogarth and Co. succeed in creating some very beautiful soundscapes. The attention to detail shown in the arrangements throughout each track gives them a whole new dimension, allowing the reworked songs to be viewed in a completely different light. Thus, not only does it sound brilliant but also, in some cases, improves upon the original. Tracks such as fan favourites ‘Easter’ and ‘The Answering Machine’ in their stripped back form are as outstanding as ever, because of the work that has gone into their arrangements. Similarly, ‘The Space’ takes on an entirely new meaning in its subdued form, the acoustic guitars and xylophones found here a far cry from the progressive rock based original.

Live From Cadogan Hall is the quintessential live release – while it is unlikely to garner the band any new fans, it is the perfect addition to the collection of anyone in their existing listening base. Combining their excellent live show with some beautiful arrangements, Marillion have created the perfect live experience. Some could argue that, given it is their 4th live release in 5 years, Live From Cadogan Hall is somewhat redundant. However, when the music is this good I can’t see anyone complaining too much.

Review: Billy Geary


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