Marillion are one of the UK music scene’s best kept secrets; purveyors of soulful, powerful, and often deeply-moving music, whose blistering live shows leave their audiences breathless.
When Fish, Marillion’s original lead singer, left the band in 1988 after four albums he was replaced by the charismatic Steve Hogarth. A former member of The Europeans and some-time collaborator with The The and Julian Cope, Hogarth brought a new heart and energy to the band.
Predictions of doom were swiftly dispelled, as across a further NINE albums, Hogarth – along with existing members Steve Rothery (guitar), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass), and Ian Mosley (drums) – reinvigorated and constantly redefined Marillion’s sound. They forged into new musical territories with a succession of inventive, emotional albums, displaying little regard to the vagaries of The Musical Fashion Police, or the bandwagoneering of radio playlists.
After the release of 1999’s ‘marillion.com’ the band banished the spectre of record company pressure once and for all by launching their own record label (the aptly-named Intact imprint) and freeing themselves up to produce some of the finest music of their career.
Thanks to their pioneering embrace of the Internet, Marillion have developed a unique and intimate relationship with their fans. From sponsoring entire tours of the USA to funding the recording of recent albums, Marillion’s global fan-base is unique in its affection and dedication. As a result, such passionate, wholesale support has allowed Marillion to step outside of the conventional music industry and find their own path.
In 2001 ‘Anoraknophobia’ saw Marillion take the groundbreaking step of asking fans to pre-order an album 12 months before release. An amazing 12,000 people signed up, helping to finance the recording. The band once again took pre-orders for the 2004 masterpiece ‘Marbles,’ but this time the money was channelled into a campaign fund to promote its launch.
When singles ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ and ‘You’re Gone‘ breached the UK top 20 – the latter making it all the way to number 7 – jaws dropped right across the music world.
Not bad going for a band without major label backing.
But it was merely the latest twist in a 23-year-long history of a group who have held on to the conviction that what they’re doing MEANS something real.
In the face of ignorance and apathy, Marillion continue to defy preconceptions and labelling. The band has evolved into a vibrant musical force – to those who already love Marillion, they’re something special; to everyone else they’re a love affair waiting to happen.
The new album ‘Somewhere Else’ could well be the one that brings the band the widespread global recognition they have long deserved. Those who've heard it think it’s the best Marillion album yet AND it’s their 14th – that’s three more albums than U2, two more than The Beatles, and the same number as The Ramones, a feat rare in the annals of rock.
Rarer still that a band should still be bettering itself after nearly a quarter of a century.