Album review: MARILLION – Marbles In The Park

MARILLION - Marbles In The Park

earMUSIC [Release date 20.01.17] 2-CD/DVD/Bluray

Available on 2xCD, DVD, and Blu Ray formats, Marbles In The Park – the centrepiece of the 2015 Marillion weekend convention at Center Parcs, Port Zelande, in The Netherlands – is a curious release.

Not least because it coincides with the release – via the band’s website – of a 3 DVD/Bluray  – box set of all 3 nights – the other two, being a ‘normal’ set (including the whole of Anoraknophobia) and Singles Night – a reasonably chronological canter through the band’s singles output, including the Fish era.  The latter, a ‘must have’ for fans, I would have thought.  The other two nights are also each available on 2xCD sets.

So really, there’s a good range of ‘pick and mix’ options.  But given the fanaticism and loyalty of the band’s fan base, it’s hard to see who would opt for Marbles In The Park on DVD or Bluray, when you effectively get all three nights for the price of two in the Out Of The Box, box set.

And for those on a budget – at the time of writing at least – the Marbles In The Park CD set is significantly cheaper on the band’s website than Amazon’s pre order price.

But, back to the main event – part of each bi-annual Marillion weekend focuses on a past release and in 2015 it was Marbles (2004) turn to be given an end to end stunning live show, with spectacular lights and back drop projections, supplemented with encores of ‘Out Of This World’ and ‘King’ (Afraid Of Sunlight (1995)) and the more recent ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’.

It has to be said, having just seen the FEAR tour (and the dramatic borrowed set opener of ‘The Invisible Man’), that Marillion really are on the top of their game at present.  Whoever is working on their stage shows has got them visually just about perfect. Add that to the band’s artistry, and H’s energy and charisma, and you’ve got a truly winning combination.

From a personal perspective I’d have to say Marbles isn’t perhaps the Marillion album I’d reach for out of choice but, as with their entire catalogue, there’s always some lurking gems and from an audio/visual perspective Marbles In The Park is both compelling and utterly absorbing.

Some might say, ‘look, we’ve already had Marbles On The Road on DVD (2004), so why would I want to invest?’  Well, let me tell you.  In The Park makes On The Road (which incidentally, didn’t include the full unabridged album) look like a home movie.  It’s a piece of glorious widescreen cinematography that you will want to watch again, and again.  *****

Review by Pete Whalley

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