As the adage goes, pride comes before a fall. So God only knows what Steve Hogarth has been doing just before he ventures stage right on night three of Marillion’s weekender in Port Zélande, stumbles towards the giant video screen and drops suddenly and scarily out of sight, onto the concrete below. The band still, the show stops, but 10 minutes later, the recently winded singer is back on stage: “I’ve had tea from nurses. No one had morphine, sadly. This next song is called Tumble Down The Years – you couldn’t make it up.”
This is Marillion’s sixth weekender at this location: all 3,000 tickets were snatched up in 12 hours, and the merchandise market is closed by lunchtime on the Sunday with everything sold. And anything goes: themed nights, your chance to play onstage with the band. It’s near total immersion into Marillion’s world, and it’s all the better for it. That said, the first night’s show is meant to have a theme, but the band drop this in favour of playing some “good shit” instead, and they’re as good as their word.
Adroitly supported on the first night by Panic Room, who are clearly something of a big deal in mainland Europe, singer Anne‑Marie Helder shows what it means to finish big with the soaring, set-ending Nocturnal.
For their part, Marillion are sophistication personified, even if H is wearing a shirt that looks like a TV on the blink, The Only Unforgivable Thing set against a blood-red church façade that burns away as the singer melts into beams of white light.
Iamthemorning open Saturday night, and are stars in the ascendant. In singer Marjana Semkina, they have a ghostly hybrid of Tori Amos and Kate Bush. They’re dazzling, though nothing is going to burn as brightly as Marillion performing Clutching At Straws in full. A flourishing, electrifying Market Square Heroes acts as a stopgap, and then we get F.E.A.R. in its entirety for the first time. It moves from 80s pyro and flames before ceding into the rusty gold and browns of arguably the band’s best ever album, with White Paper a particular high.
Stumble aside, Sunday is a memorable Marillion.com reimagined, with guest players. After singer-songwriter Harry Pane (think Nick Drake on steroids) has exited the stage, the In Praise Of Folly string quartet appear as ethereal Miss Havishams for A Legacy. There’s saxophone, sometime band lyricist John Helmer on guitar, muted trumpet and piano on House, and understated thrills.
While F.E.A.R.’s The Leavers is partly revived to play the delirious crowd out, confetti cannons fire into the high ceiling. The doors open and people are led, smiling and stupefied, out into the night.