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Marillion – From Stoke Row To Ipanema DVD Review

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I think the reason that I have never held Marillion in quite as a high a regard as fellow second (or third – depending on who you ask) generation
prog-rockers Dream Theater or Spock’s Beard, is that non of their music has ever really blown me away, to the same extent that these other bands have. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly like these guys – a lot, but I have never felt the need to hear everything that they have ever released, like I do with many other bands. Many of their releases, especially the DVD’s, are only available, here in the U.S. at import prices, which can be double the normal price. I passed over this DVD for almost a year because it cost over thirty dollars. I was forced to give these guys a second look after seeing Steve’s Hogarth and Rothery join Dream Theater on stage during a 1995 cover show in London, where they gave a stunning performance of one of my favorite Marillion songs, "Easter". This performance appeared on Dream Theater‘s 5
Years In A Livetime
DVD, and made me run out and buy Made Again: Live and this DVD.

Marillion formed in 1979 and went on to release their first album, Script For A Jesters Tear, in 1983, which helped the band draw strong comparisons to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. These comparisons were deserving, but I welcomed their tribute. If we cant have the real thing anymore, we may as well have a good imitation. By their third album, 1985’s fantastic Misplaced Childhood, Marillion would have developed a more unique sound and style, and this album would propel them firmly into the
top tier of the new wave of progressive-rock bands. In 1988, at the peak of their success, after releasing the acclaimed Clutching At Straws album,
Marillion front-man Fish abruptly quit the band. From Stoke Row To Ipanema documents a year in the life of the band – the year after the split with Fish. Marillion had just recorded and released the excellent Seasons End album, featuring new vocalist Steve Hogarth, and would embark on a world tour to support the album, and introduce
their new front-man to the legion of loyal fans who had anxiously awaited the fate of their favorite band.

From Stoke Row To Ipanema was originally released on VHS in 1990, and disk two of this new DVD features a complete concert filmed live at DeMontfort Hall, Leicester, England, on 24 April 1990, during Marillion‘s Seasons End tour. All nine songs from Seasons End are performed, so if you like that particular album, you are certain to enjoy this DVD. Fortunately, for us, it is one of their best albums. The concert also heavily favors (or as the British would say – favours), Clutching At Straws, Marillion‘s last album with Fish. Four songs from that album were performed. Throw in three hit songs from Misplaced Childhood and that about wraps things up. The band completely ignores their first two albums, which is somewhat understandable, considering the circumstances. They do, however, close the show with a rousing ten-minute revved-up reworking of their pre-Script For A Jesters Tear
single, "Market Square Heroes".

Disk one of the DVD features loads of great material including interviews with the band, the marvelous "Uninvited Guest" and "Easter" videos, some additional concert footage, and a live studio performance of "This Town" from, what would be their next album, Holidays In Eden. Hogarth demonstrated those cool midi-gloves that he utilized during the concert, and then proceeded to jam to "Eric", from Holidays In Eden, with Rothery and Kelly. The highlight of the disk was performances of "Kayleigh", "Lavender", and "Hooks In You" from the band’s appearance at the 1990 Hollywood Rock Festival, in Brazil, before a crowd of 85,000 people. On the absolute opposite spectrum from the massive Brazil festival, they throw in a few minutes of amazing (amazingly bad, and amazingly interesting) footage from their first
"gig" with Steve Hogarth at a tiny pub called the Crooked Billet. This
pub probably had a normal capacity of about twenty people, but they crammed in over a hundred drunken Marillion fans who were hanging through the windows and from the walls, and were practically nose to nose with the band as they performed from a tiny corner stage, which they themselves had to get to through a small window. Now that’s bloody Rock and Roll mate!

The audio and video quality was what you would expect from a 1990 production that was originally recorded for VHS. The picture was soft, slightly
grainy, and never surpasses TV quality, but the camera production was excellent. "Directors Cut" versions were also included for six of the songs, and I found myself enjoying these more than the originals, because the new camera angles provided a slightly better representation of what the actual live concert experience was like. Unfortunately, only a PCM stereo track is provided, but it has been remastered quite nicely, and basically sounds like a good live CD.

Considering the wealth of material included, this is a great DVD package, if you can find it at a reasonable price. From Stoke Row To Ipanema
gives you an intimate look at what had to be the most challenging and exciting year in the band’s career, as they anxiously embarked on the post-Fish era, introducing a new album and front-man to the masses.

Set List
The King Of Sunset Town
Slainte Mhath
Easter
Uninvited Guest
Warm Wet Circles
That Night Of The Night (The Short Straw)
Holloway Girl
Berlin
Seasons End
Hooks In You
The Space…
Kayleigh
Lavender
Heart Of Lothian
Incommunicado
After Me
Market Square Heroes

Performance 8/10
Production 6/10

Read all of my DVD concert reviews at Roy’s Reviews

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About Paul Roy

  • http://www.thedividingline.com/rg.html Frans

    Nicely done! Hey, while you are at it, could you review Marillion’s latest CD “Marbles” (the 2-disc version). It would be interesting to see your take on it.

    Cheers,
    Frans

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1 Paul Roy

    Thanks Frans. I’m not sure I am ready to cross over into the CD review territory just yet. I’d have to quit my day job for that…hmmm, not a bad idea. I might make a special acception if I were to get a free copy though. Hint, Hint.

    Paul

  • http://www.thebeautifullull.com Tom Johnson

    Paul, having watched both this and their latest live DVD, Marbles on the Road, I can highly suggest the latter – it’s actually better. The Marbles portion of the DVD is the real highlight, but you also get a small selection of tracks from the rest of the post-Fish albums as well. If you order the DVD from Marillion.com, you can get the two-disc version which has the rest of the concert with even more stuff including some early takes on Marlbles material performed before the album was recorded. It makes for an incredible bunch of music.

    The difference between the relatively green Steve Hogarth of 1990 and the very seasoned performer he is today is in stark contrast. He’s really become stunning and fascinating to watch bring the music to life with his expressions and gesturing.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    Thanks Tom. The Marbles DVD is definately on my short list. Look for a review within the next month or so. You’re absolutely right about Hogarth, he is one of the best frontmen in the business now. Has Fish been up to anything notable lately?

    Paul

  • Paul Moore

    Good review – I was at the gig and can confirm that the director’s cuts were actually different performances of the same songs on the same night (or at least some of them are!)

  • Ken Stevens

    I’m not a rock fan, just an elderly gent living in the area, who wondered why our south Oxfordshire village of Stoke Row kept coming up on Google, associated with Marillion. That led me to this site.

    Now I see the link with Stoke Row! Slight amplification is that this is the location of the ‘Crooked Billet’ pub mentioned above as the location of first gig. It’s actually quite an upmarket venue, rather than the pokey hole implied, i.e. it’s a posh pokey hole!

    See The Crooked Billet.