So I saw Marillion at the Fillmore last night, and despite my doubts, I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

The band used an unusual formula: the show was split in two parts and the first part was entirely dedicated to the new material. They played pretty much the entire Marbles album except for a couple of songs which they saved for the encores. The second part featured some of their standard live songs and unfortunately, they didn’t play any Fish-era songs at all.

I can understand this decision (after all, Fish was only with Marillion for a few years and that was more than fifteen years ago), but there is no doubt that quite a few of the fans present last night would have loved to hear some Fish material. And after all, even Genesis was still covering some Peter Gabriel oldies in their last tours, so this is not unheard of in the prog circles.

The part I liked most was in the encores (there were two). After the first song, Steve Hogarth took he microphone and said:

“We were chatting in the dressing room and we couldn’t decide which song we were going to play now… Afraid of Sunlight, or The Great Escape

Of course, the crowd was quick to indicate its preference vociferously and Steve teased us for a little while, switching from one to the other and back. Finally, he shrugged and said:

“Okay, fine. Both.”

The audience went berserk at this point, as you can imagine, and I happily joined in the screaming, as these two songs are definitely some of my favorites. Then he turned to Steven Rothery and asked him:

“What guitar are you using right now?”

Rothery mouthed “A-O-S”, Steve acknowledged and then, Marc Kelly started playing the hypnotic first bars of Afraid of Sunlight… Drive the road… to your surrender…

The Great Escape is always spectacular on stage, especially when Steve’s voice is up to it, and he fully delivered last night. Finally, the band closed the last encore with Easter, which Steve described as “one of the very first songs we wrote together, when I showed up circa 1989″.

A fitting closing act for a fine performance of progressive rock delight.