Formed in 1979, modern progressive-rock group Marillion got off to an auspicious start: the band’s first and second albums—1983’s “Script for a Jester’s Tear” and the 1984 release “Fugazi”—both top-tenned in the group’s native UK. Their third album, “Misplaced Childhood” (released 1985) was Marillion’s breakthrough; it hit number one in the UK and rose to forty-seven on the US album charts, partly on the strength of its single, “Kayleigh.”
Marillion would appear only once more on the US album chart, in 1987. After that record, lead vocalist Fish left for a solo career, apparently taking with him whatever transatlantic commercial draw the band had. But Marillion’s popularity has persisted in the UK; their eighteenth and latest studio release, “F.E.A.R.,” hit number three on the British album charts.
The band quickly replaced Fish with lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Steve Hogarth, and the lineup stabilized; there hasn’t been a single change in Marillion personnel since 1989. Like many Marillion albums, “F.E.A.R.” is built upon unifying thematic elements; in this case the album deals with the downside of rugged individualism. Lengthy suite-like pieces—“El Dorado,” “The Leavers” and “The New Kings”—form the musical basis of the record suggesting comparisons with Yes, but the sweeping space-rock of Pink Floyd is a musical touchstone as well.
Marillion’s current tour takes the group to about a dozen venues across North America; the band’s two nights at The Vic feature opener John Wesley, the American guitarist-vocalist best-known as a member of the live lineup of Porcupine Tree.
For Chicago fans of progressive music, the Marillion shows will make an excellent addition to a prog-themed week: across town on October 21-23, Reggies Chicago is host to Progtoberfest II, an all-star progressive-rock festival featuring Brand X, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, Mike Keneally’s Beer for Dolphins and many more including Chicago’s own District 97. (Bill Kopp)
October 27 and 28, 8pm at The Vic, 3145 North Sheffield, (773)472-0449; $60, $101 for both nights.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. His more than 2,500 interviews, essays, and reviews reflect Bill’s keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill’s work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues, and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. His first book, “Reinventing Pink Floyd,” is due from Rowman & Littlefield in February 2018.