To review Marillion one has to inevitably talk about progressive rock, always rather considered the nerd of rock music, belittled by the pop/punk/rap/dance fraternity. Only the metal brigade manage to have a somewhat tolerant relationship with prog rock, able to travel occasionally on a usually solitary journey for overnight trips.

To say Marillion are only progressive rock or consider themselves such would be belittling to them but that they began with evident awe of Gabriel/Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator explains their evident distancing from all things popular and sellable over their 30 year career(excluding the 80’s Kayleigh interlude). Yet they have kept a very close and flourishing relationship with their hardcore fans through internet fan clubs, newsletters, fan conventions and above all live performances all over the world.

Today we are in Milan, at the Alcatraz club, with a beer swilling mainly male audience, ranging from 25-65, all very animated and eagerly discussing possible set-lists and such. I am a music nerd for sure, not necessarily a prog rock one though my upbringing in a boarding school in the 70’s insured me a firm grounding in the whys and ways of the concept album. However the latest Marillion album ‘ Sounds that can’t be made’, their 17th studio album, for me, was the best album of 2012, full stop!

Indeed the band open with ‘Gaza’ the epic opening track from their new album which deals with the Palestinian issue and follow with a classic track ‘Ocean Cloud’ dealing with the humane hardship story of Don Allum and the first and only transatlantic crossing in a rowing boat. In total 35 minutes of intense drama and theatrics, with cohesive band musicianship, with Steve Hogarth ,H, at the helm, masterful in his interpretation and singing prowess. No goblins, wizards or fantasy imagery but’ in your face’, dramatic, important lyrics, rarely heard in a rock context at least. All the tracks off the new album ‘Pour my love’, ‘Power’, ‘Sounds that can’t be made’, ‘The sky above the rain’ were mesmerizing with masterful guitar work by Steve Rothery and his custom made Jack Dent guitar, the band loose enough to follow the whims of H.

Older songs followed pleasing the more senior punters, and the gig was a success thanks to a good sound system, a fan based crowd and the band on great form. The ‘weight’ of a band that’s stood on the planks for over 30 years, playing a music that allows you to immerse yourself in it or step back from it; to think and share thoughts from random lyrics, to ebb and flow in the languid, harmonious sounds, some of which as the title track suggests “happen inside you, silent and high”, was so very pleasant.

Check out the new album, prog rock, pop, rap, punk fans etc ad try and catch the band live. All music nerds can apply!

Set-list: Alcatraz, Milan 22/01/2013
1. Gaza
2. Ocean Cloud
3. Pour My Love
4. Neverland
5. Power
6. Sounds That Can't Be Made
7. The Sky Above The Rain
8. The Great Escape
9. Man of a Thousand Faces
10. Warm Wet Circles
11. That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
Encore 2:
12. Easter
13. Three Minute Boy