Given Marillion’s clean sweep of the Prog Readers’ Poll, this review is sure to be guilty of preaching to the choir but hot damn, this is great. Filmed over three nights at the Marillion Weekend 2015, Out Of The Box pre-dates last year’s brilliant FEAR album, but otherwise covers the full length and breadth of their career.
The first night, dubbed Waves And Numb3rs, sees the band perform 2001’s Anoraknophobia in full, which is a treat. There’s the funky bass line that launches Fruit Of The Wild Rose, while they dig in hard for the rollicking Separated Out. The only dip in the set is the repetitive trip-hop of This Is The 21st Century, which lacks the drive and power of drummer Ian Mosley. On that topic, Mosley suffers the fate common to drummers in live shoots of mainly being filmed from the back of his head. Anyway, once Mosley is back behind the kit on If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill, the energy is instantly restored and Steve Hogarth hits every precipitous high note.
They encore with the back-to-back marathons of This Strange Engine, in which Steve Rothery’s soaring guitar solo prompts a sustained round of applause, and Gaza before finishing with the rather more concise Three Minute Boy. Night two, Marbles In The Park, sees a complete performance of, you guessed it, 2004’s Marbles.Where Anoraknophobia is built of towering dynamic peaks and dramatic valleys, Marbles finds the band in a much more introspective frame of mind, channelling the influences of Pink Floyd and Radiohead. It has its moments, but never reaches the highs of Waves And Numb3rs.
The final disc is the self-explanatory Singles Night as they tackle, in chronological order, their hits and not-so-hits from 1983’s Market Square Heroes up to 2012’s Power. Hooks In You gets the crowd jumping and The Uninvited Guest is a surging rock monster. The 90s material is a little more subdued – No One Can, Dry Land and this acoustic version of Sympathy could come from Sting’s mellowest albums – but the set gradually builds back up, reaching another zenith with Whatever Is Wrong With You. “People occasionally say Marillion is a band with a hardcore fanbase,” says Hogarth to the gathered faithful. “That’s an understatement.” Dedicated fans will likely already own the live albums of both Anoraknophobia and Marbles that followed their studio originators, but this three Blu-ray set has all the advantages of high-def video and audio – this begs to be cranked up and let loose to annoy housemates, neighbours and passersby.