Throughout its history, the Sage Gateshead has witnessed its fair share of grand sinfonias. But for tonight only, we see the marriage of two polarised genres, with both classical and rock music fused together under the roof of this grand concert hall.
This concert marks Marillion’s second date in this very room in just over 18 months. However, this time around the band are joined by their ‘Friends from the Orchestra’. With this show giving the band the ability to flex their creative muscles, and develop many of their tried and tested compositions with the assistance of this newly added troupe of world-class touring musicians.
Even though Steve Hogarth has been with Marillion since 1989, he is still regarded as the new boy of the band. And this evening’s show traverses the whole spectrum of the frontman’s time with the group. Although it doesn’t prevent the occasional member of the packed out crowd from shouting out requests for songs such as Grendel – which he takes in good spirit.
The top of the show gets underway with a 20 minute epic by way of Gaza, before the band changes their attention to their climate change inspired number Seasons End. The latter is a hot topic at present, but the group has been talking about this issue since the song was composed back in 1989.
The addition of strings on tracks such as Estonia and Hollow Man is very effective. The orchestral elements coming together seamlessly with the rest of the band, and adding a wonderful texture to many of these Marillion tracks.
Mid-set the group takes us through their majestic four-part suite The New Kings from their latest record. This progressive rock masterpiece highlights Marillion’s creativity, musical stamina and thought-provoking lyrics. Whilst the addition of video projections at the rear of the stage perfectly compliment the flow of the evening throughout.
Hogarth seems to be quite taken by both the crowd and the venue declaring he wishes that they could take this lovely woody room with them. With the flawless acoustics in Hall One at Sage Gateshead, this room is the perfect location for a show such as this.
A beautiful airing of Sky Above The Rain features dramatic keyboard work from Mark Kelly and emotive guitar playing from Steve Rothery. Before the rather fittingly titled Great Escape closes out the main set resulting in a standing ovation from the Tyneside crowd.
But we aren’t done yet. The highlight of a three-song double encore comes by way of Separated Out, during which the band ups the tempo and truly rocks out. The orchestra taking the spotlight as they interject a few bars of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir into the mix to great effect.
Tonight’s two-hour musical marathon from Marillion and their Friends from the Orchestra is a testament to the fact that classical music can most certainly rock. And not only that, but it’s incredibly enjoyable too.