Marillion
The First Web Germany Convention
Alter Wartesaal, Köln, Germany
By Bart Jan van der Vorst


At the Dutch convention last week, there were some tickets on sale for the German convention a week later. A small Dutch delegation of the Marillion's Freaks mailinglist, the Freak-a-tears, decided to travel to Cologne, to see what kind of ideas the Germans had about Marillion.

We arrived at the old waiting room of Cologne's Hauptbahnhof about two hours early, but due of the heavy rain pouring down on us we decided to shelter underneath a little roof in front of thevenue, rather than to go into town. We got to hear the band doing the entire sound-check, which promised a *very* special song which they didn't play in Holland last week.

When the doors finally opened there was already a huge crowd standing in front of the Alter Wartesaal. The support act of the night was just finishing their sound-check, and played one song to welcome the people who were coming in.

At about 5.30 Jörg Bäcker, chairman of The Web Germany welcomed us all and gave us details of the program of the evening. They would start with showing some rare videos of Marillion, after which we would get a stage interview with Marillion, an autographing session, the support act No Name and finally Marillion.

The videos were shown on a very poorly placed video screen, which was difficult to see as it was all the way on the right of the stage, above the back-stage entrance and near the bar. First we got to see the video of Man of a thousand faces followed by Beautiful. The next video was the much talked-about video of H's solo single You dinosaur thing, which was absolutely hilarious. I had never seen this clip before and I just can't understand why it has never been shown on any music station on TV, as it is definitely the best Marillion video since Sugar Mice even though it isn't even a Marillion video.

After this video they played a video-clip of a Europeans song called Animals, which was a really weird clip. Next we were treated with some *really* old live footage of the Europeans, showing a very young Hogarth. From the position where we were standing we could clearly see the band themselves watching and enjoying this footage from backstage.

The stage interview lasted about twice as long as last week in Holland. This was mainly because the girl taking the interview felt the need to translate everything into German for the people in there who didn't speak English. Judging from the laughs and cheers the band received after making a joke there couldn't be more than five or ten people in the audience who needed a translation of that joke. Nevertheless she insisted on her translations and people in the audience politely corrected her. :-)
I hope I'm not stepping on any German toes here, but I think this was pathetic.

The band started taking the piss on her, which resulted in a lot of laughter from both the audience and the band. For example when she asked what kind of music the band listened to in their private lives Ian amusingly replied: "That's private !"
Altogether I had a great time watching this interview, which started as something very fake and rehearsed and ended up in one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen.

After the autographing session the support band No Name started playing. They played some sort of hard-rock prog, with clear Led Zeppelin influences (the lead singer even looked like Robert Plant).
The band didn't make much of an impression to me, and I was glad when it was over. Their keyboardplayer was quite good though, and he gave a really good piano solo, on a *very* badly sounding keyboard.
They were well received by the rest of the audience, so my opinion could be a little influenced by the fact that it was the 7th performance I saw in only 9 days.

I was glad when Marillion came onstage at about 8.50 and started Costa del Slough. There were two things I immediately noticed, compared to last week: The sound and the lighting. Last week the sound hadn't been too good, and the stage had been so dark that most of the pictures I had taken were under exposed.
Here the sound was crystal clear, all the instruments (and especially the keyboards) could be clearly heard. Because the venue is actually a nightclub, there were some pretty impressive lights hanging above the stage. Too bad I was standing to far from the stage to take any proper pictures.

The setlist exactly the same as last week, and the new songs are really starting to grow on me. I can already say that I like Radiation better than their last album, This Strange Engine.

H talked even less than last week (probably because some interviewer had told him the audience didn't speak any English) and he only introduced about two or three songs.
When he was about to introduce 80 Days he said: "This next song, is from our last album. This song is about ..." And someone shouted out loud "EASTER!!!!" so H continued: "This song is *not* about you !" Not sure what to think about that, actually.
During the keyboard solo of 80 Days Mark lost it completely and had to skip about half his solo. He was probably disappointed with that, so during the final chorus of the song he played it again.

Again the main set finished with Cathedral Wall which is really growing on me. Unfortunately H's scream at the end of the song wasn't as loud and long as he had hoped for.

The band left the stage and came back for their encore, which was *not* Cover my eyes like it had been in Holland and England. An intro tape was being played and you could hear water rushing and some strange ambient chords. Then Pete started a fast bass-riff and Ian kicked in with the Big Beat version of Memory of Water which is the b'side of the These Chains single.
In the first part of the song H seemed to have some difficulties singing in time with the rest of the music, but when Mark nodded his head like "This is not going to work" H put his thumbs up and continued playing.
This new version of this song featured three (!!!) firing guitarsolos by Rothery and some brilliant drumming by Ian. It sounded much rawer than the version, which is on the single, and I thought it was definitely the highlight of the show. As far as I know it was the first time they ever played this song live.

Memory of Water flew into the intro of King, which again didn't have any samples at the beginning. Maybe the band decided not to play them anymore. While waiting for H to start singing the crowd went berserk, shouting "Jetzt geht los!!" (it's about to happen)
The band played one of the best versions of King they have ever played, making me forget completely about last week's disastrous version.

Then it was really over (or so we thought) and the band left the stage again. Everybody just kept on screaming and cheering, so that the band *had* to come back. They played Gimme some lovin' just like last week, before the left again.

The German crowd however, wasn't easily satisfied and I experienced for the first time myself what it is like to shout out loud: "Zugabe, Zugabe"
And an encore came, Steve Rothery came back onstage and started playing Sugar Mice. The rest of the band came back and the crowd already started singing before H had entered the stage.
The crowd sung the entire song, with H just sitting on his piano stool in front of the stage, the cord of his unplugged microphone around his back, enjoying every moment of it.

The band left again and immediately the PA started playing some music.
After about 5 minutes Jörg Backer came onstage to thank everybody for coming, but he didn't get a chance to speak as the crowd kept on shouting for an encore. Jörg could do nothing but leaving the stage again and ask the band to play another song.

So the band came back for a party version of Cover my eyes, but this still couldn't please the crowd. After the song had finished most members had left the stage, apart from Ian and H. The crowd started shouting "Easter! Easter! Easter!" while clapping and Ian began playing his drums to the beat of the claps.

Then another unique thing happened: Ian gave a drumsolo. I don't think he has ever given an unaccompanied drumsolo at a concert before, or at least not in recent years. H stayed onstage, encouraging the audience to keep on cheering, while Ian played a solo for about a minute and a half.
The crowd kept on shouting for Easter, so H asked Erik Nielsen, Mark Kelly's keyboard technician, to give him a piano sound on his keyboard. He started playing the piano version of Easter and after the first line the crowd took over the vocals.
The rest of the band came back onstage and fell in after the first chorus, making the party complete.

When the band left again a couple of roadies immediately started to take Ian's drumkit and Mark's keyboards apart, so that the band couldn't come back anymore. Jörg came back onstage and told us that now it was really over, but that the party would go on all night and that the band would come out to meet us and party with us all night.

Unfortunately the four of us had to miss all that, since we still had to drive back home.
In the end I must say that I liked this concert better than the Dutch one, the crowd was much more enthusiastic. Most likely because they don't get that many fanclub conventions in Germany, and we Dutchies are maybe a bit spoiled having had at least one each year over the past 6 years, and last year even two!

So altogether my first German gig was quite an experience, and I definitely loved shouting Zugabe ... :-)

Setlist:

Costa Del Slough
Under The Sun
Answering Machine
Cannibal Surf Babe
Man Of A Thousand Faces
Wave
Mad
Opium Den
The Slide
Three Minute Boy
Splintering Heart
These Chains
80 Days
Gazpacho
Cathedral Wall

Memory Of Water
King

Gimme Some lovin'

Sugar Mice

Cover My Eyes
Drum Solo
Easter

 

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