— Marillion, "Separated Out", from Anoraknophobia (2001)
Marillion are a Progressive Rock group formed in 1979 in Aylesbury, England. They rose to prominence in the early 80's as one of the few remaining Progressive Rock acts, and remain active and prolific to this day.Their career falls into two distinct periods, separated by the departure of original front man Fish in 1988 and his subsequent replacement with Steve Hogarth. Both periods have a dedicated following, leading to a severe case of Broken Base.In recent years, Marillion have gained some notability for their innovative use of the internet as a means of communicating with the fan base and selling records. They have been independent from any record company since 2001, when they financed the release of their album Anoraknophobia entirely with internet pre-orders.
Steve Hogarth (Lead Vocals and Keyboards)
Pete Trewavas (Bass, Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocals)
Steve Rothery (Guitars)
Mark Kelly (Keyboards, Samples and Backing Vocals)
The Band Minus the Face: Either played straight or averted, depending on who you ask. Both Fish- and Hogarth-era Marillion have a dedicated following, and there seems to be little overlap. Mentioning either singer on a progressive rock forum is instant Flame Bait.
Beware the Nice Ones: Fish. An amiable Scot and by virtually all accounts a Gentle Giant, but the backstory of the song "Incubus" reveals just how vindictive he can be. According to one account given by him at a concert, he met an ex at a pub six months after she had dumped him (the aftermath of said dumping detailed in an earlier song, "The Web") along with the ex's new boyfriend. After calmly sitting through 10-15 minutes of snide remarks from said ex, her boyfriend retreats to the toilet, and Fish produces a particularly racy Polaroid photo from their past. He hides it once her new boyfriend comes back, but she realises that if she doesn't cease the veiled hostilities, said Polaroid might start making the rounds... Hoo boy.
Creator Backlash: The band in its current line-up has stepped away from some (though by no means all) of the very early stuff. "Grendel" gets the worst of it, even from Fish. Of course, this doesn't stop some fans from gleefully shouting for it...
Creator Breakdown: Hogarth seems to suffer these on a regular basis, but the divorce that inspired half the songs on Somewhere Else stands out. A bit of a subversion as the album got a lackluster response. Fish had his share of these as well; for example, Misplaced Childhood grew out of a difficult breakup he went through, while a number of the songs on Clutching at Straws were directly inspired by his alcoholism.
Misplaced Childhood is a shining example of this, with every track fading into the next apart from "Heart of Lothian" and "Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)", which ended Side One and began Side Two respectively. Initially, the band wanted to have just two sidelong tracks on the album, Mike Oldfield style, but eventually decided against it.
On Holidays in Eden, the final three tracks ("This Town", "The Rake's Progress" and "100 Nights" fade into each other.
Fake-Out Opening: "Between You And Me" is the biggest example, as well as a few smaller ones.
A strange example occurrred on the 2012 Sounds That Can't Be Made tour. The shouw would start with the sounds of "Splintering Heart", one of the bands traditional show-openers... only for the song to break down and actually explode before the band came up, as if a bomb went off. The band would then enter and kick off with "Gaza" instead.
Hatedom: A disturbing number of people refuses to acknowledge Marillion's existence after Fish' departure. Worth noting that Fish himself has gone on record as approving of Hogarth's work with the band.
The opposite has also happened. Hogarth has referred to Fish as "a lyrical genius" and said that "it's not a bloody competition".
Hidden Track: The concept album Brave notably featured one as part of the vinyl version. The final side of the album features the song "The Great Escape", however this side is double-grooved. The needle will either land on the groove that plays "The Great Escape" and "Made Again", representing the happy ending to the story; or "The Great Escape (Spiral Remake)" and twenty minutes of water noises, representing the downer ending to the story. The CD version contained the happy ending, while the film version contained the downer ending.
Long Runner Lineup: Type 2. They were a bit of a Revolving Door Band in the early years, but their lineup remained unchanged since 1989. Ever since the new guy joined. Think about that for a second.
Lyrical Dissonance: Most of their poppy-sounding songs have this. Most noticeable example: "Cannibal Surf Babe," a cheery pop song (in a vaguely Beach Boys style) about... well, guess.
Madness Mantra: "Problems, problems, problems, problems..." in "He Knows, You Know".
Non-Appearing Title: Many examples, including "Incubus", "Bitter Suite", "King", "Estonia" and "A Few Words For The Dead". "Gaza" is a peculiar case, as Hogarth deliberately leaves the song open to apply to armed conflicts around the globe.
One Steve Limit: Averted. Both the lead singer and the guitarist are named Steve.
Or So I Heard: While explaining the story behind Incubus (see 'Beware The Nice Ones', above), Fish refers to "various men's magazines, which we never buy but which we've heard about".
Purple Prose: Many early Fish lyrics. Take a look at this little gem:
Midnight suns bid moors farewell, retreats from charging dusk
Mountains echo, curfews bell, signal ending tasks
They place their faith in oaken doors, cower in candlelight
The panic seeps through bloodstained floors as Grendel stalks the night
Putting the Band Back Together: In the Aylesbury music event "Hobble on the Cobbles", Fish headlined. And at the end of the set, he called some old friends onto the stage... Made more awesome because it took place in Aylesbury Market Square, and they played "Market Square Heroes". The crowd went absolutely bananas.
Among others. Specifically, Hogarth alludes to this lifestyle in songs like "80 days" and "Somewhere Else".
Large swaths of Clutching at Straws can be read as this, but "Incommunicado" is perhaps the most explicit Rockstar Song of them all. Also, "Tux On", which was the B-side to "Sugar Mice", details the rise and fall of a rock star. It's not exactly cheery fare.
Sadist Teacher: "The physical knuckle-head teacher of games" from "Ocean Cloud". Hogarth explained in an interview that it was his own teacher, who singled little Steve out to be humiliated in front of the class. Hogarth credits the memory of "that bloody games teacher" for actually driving him on towards succes, just to prove him wrong.
Team Dad: Hogath credits Ian Mosley for being this. Whenever tensions in the band rise, it is Ian who keeps a cool head and suggest they all take a break.
Title Only Chorus: This has become a bit of a habit of theirs recently: "See It Like A Baby", "Thank You Whoever You Are", "A State of Mind", "Happiness is the Road", "Whatever is Wrong With You", "Real Tears For Sale", "It's Not Your Fault" among others.
"Chelsea Monday": "Hello John, did you see the Standard about four hours ago? Fished a young chick out of the Old Father..."
"Forgotten Sons": "Approach...friend." or "Peace on Earth and mercy mild, Mother Brown has lost her child..."
"Cinderella Search": Not so much a Wham Line as a Wham Musical Cue. At around 2:54 the song takes a sharp turn from the cautiously optimistic buildup to a sombre piano solo, while the lyrics reveal that the girl the narrator desired has been taken by someone else, making the narrator realise that he is the Romantic False Lead and that he is, effectively, back at square one.
"Splintering Heart": "...but not as much as this!"
"Out of this World": "Complete accident on the radar"
"Three Minute Boy": "The flash gun went off without warning"