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Marillion/John Wesley live on September 9, 1997 at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT

This show began on a high note with an excellent opening set by John Wesley, who also happens to be a member of Marillion's stage crew. (True rock and roll spirit-let the roadie open the show!) John kicked things off with "Last Man By Your Side", a great song from his upcoming (March?) second release. He proved that one man, with only one acoustic guitar, can actually play prog-rock very well. He stopped to answer one fan's question, about if he had any CDs for sale, and explained that he had already sold out. (The tour's only half over!) I expect that we'll all be hearing the name John Wesley very soon.

Marillion took the stage, preceeded by a blanket of stage fog and a chanting crowd, and immediately charged into "Seasons End." The crowd was relatively small, at slightly over half of Toad's 750 capacity, but was one of the loudest and excited group of fans that I've ever seen at the club. These weren't the club's regulars, these were die-hard Marillion fans, some of whom had traveled from Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont just to attend this performance. The band sounded great and reciprocated the excitement of the crowd. The highlight of the show was the awesome new piece "This Strange Engine", which clocks in at about 17 minutes and may just be the band's greatest effort to date. Lead vocalist Steve Hogarth's voice was strong and his stage antics and facial expressions compounded the effect he had on the crowd. A simple grin and eye motion was all the effort he needed to expend to get the crowd singing whenever he wanted them to, and they happily carried along the lyrics on several songs. This tour, and this show especially, contained very few non Hogarth-era songs. The band is obviously very confident in their newer material, and rightfully so. The rest of the band were their usual selves, exceptional! Marillion is simply one of the leaders of the current Prog-rock genre and they prove it every time they take the stage. I'm amazed every time I get to see a band this good playing to a half-empty club. The fact that their latest album "This Strange Engine" wasn't even released in the US shows the sorry state, and poor taste, of the music industry in this country. The band's main set was about 80 minutes in length. They returned to the stage three more times, in response to a roaring crowd, and added about another hour's worth of music to the performance. There was some disappointment from the crowd that a fourth encore wasn't going to happen, they really were that good, but everyone left happy anyway.