Friday, April 16, 2010

First Listen: Marillion, Tumbling Down the Years and Size Matters

Marillion is one of my favorite bands, and I buy everything they release. That means my collection contains dozens of versions of the same songs, in different contexts. For some reason, I never get sick of hearing these tunes, which is good, because the band keeps finding new ways to present them to me.

The latest two live albums document the Saturday and Sunday shows from last year's Marillion convention in Holland. Tumbling Down the Years finds the band arranging their material from most recent to least, one song representing each year. They start with 2009's "This Train is My Life," and end with 1981's "Garden Party," although they do skip a few years in the '80s.

Naturally, for me, this means the album gets less interesting as it goes along. Marillion's on an incredible hot streak right now, with Marbles and Happiness is the Road, and they've come a long way from their neo-prog early days. I like the old stuff, but listening to Tumbling is like hearing evolution in reverse.

For the Size Matters show, Marillion played 10 of their longest tracks back to back. The shortest is nine minutes, the longest 17, and the whole thing runs just over two hours. And it's marvelous. These are not easy songs to play, particularly numbers like "Interior Lulu" and "This Strange Engine," and listening to them tough their way through them is kind of inspiring. Plus, they play "Ocean Cloud," which may be my favorite Marillion song.

Both of these records are worth picking up, for fans and non-fans alike. There's also a DVD box set of the convention, called Out of Season, that will be available soon. Check them out at


  1. Thanks for that review, even if it is more a decription - would be interested in a fan's opinion on the quality of the live tracks... I always think Marillion is missing a second guitar live which makes them live sound a lot less "wide" than on albums...

  2. True, more of a description... Total fan mode: I think the new records are of fine quality. They're not quite up to the standards of something like Happiness is Cologne, but they're not Front Row Club bootleg quality either. And I don't think they have any problems sounding widescreen live, particularly on tracks like "Neverland." Besides, who could they get to back up God?

  3. :-) well spoken...! perhaps they should sample Rotherys guitar play... :-) Going to order the two bundles anyway... thanks again.