This two-CD/DVD digipak dates back to earlier in the year, when the Marillion guitarist played at the Cross Roads Live Club in Italy.
It was only the second time that Rothery had performed with a band line-up completed by Mr So & So guitarist Dave Foster, Yatim Halimi of Panic Room on bass and drummer Leon Parr. But so “unforgettable” was the experience, and given the clear fan hunger for the upcoming album The Ghosts Of Pripyat (the Kickstarter campaign for which raised its target almost four times over), Steve felt the show merited release as a stepping stone in the project’s development.
You can see his point. Rothery has always been an expressive guitarist, and in this regard he’s somewhat underrated. Most of the material performed here is instrumental, which allows him to really flourish. Opening track Morpheus (the studio companion on Pripyat features Steve Hackett) is a leisurely, dignified and fairly lengthy vocal-free piece that bodes well for the album.
Kendris is vaguely Eastern-sounding in origin but it flows beautifully and the smoothness of Rothery’s playing is quite something to hear. Another set to co-star Hackett, The Old Man Of The Sea arrives with Rothery’s explanation that he sought to compose soundtracks for imaginary movies with his new songs. 11 minutes long and featuring some frenetic soloing, this one is quite an epic, as is _White Pass. _It’s inspired by a treacherous path used by 18th century gold prospectors, and it does a fine job of placing the listener in what its creator calls a “frozen, bleak landscape”.
A vigorous ending rescues Yesterday’s Hero from a maudlin fate, though this becomes understandable when Rothery dedicates the song to his recently deceased stepfather, who was a WWII veteran. Variations of mood and pace and
a scorching climax ensure that the evening’s final newie, Summer’s End, perhaps tops the lot.
Over on disc two, Rothery and company visit more recognisable territory. It’s interesting to hear _Waiting To Happen _and Sugar Mice delivered with a female voice (step forward Manuela Milanese), while Alessandro Carmassi does a passable enough job on the ever-blissful Easter – just three of five Marillion songs revisited.
Perhaps unexpectedly, things conclude with _Materna Luna _and Monolith Pt 2, originally recorded by the Roman proggers RanestRane, whose own Riccardo Romano contributes keys throughout and with whom Rothery has previously collaborated. Much to investigate here, then.