Progressive rock giants Marillion have seen The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. With the long, dark days of COVID-19 hopefully behind us by then, Marillion will shed some light across the stages of Britain with a ten date tour in November 2021. The tour includes a date at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall.
“We are extremely fortunate, we had set aside 2020 to make our 19th studio album and so we saved up a bit and we budgeted for a year on the ground, before this plague broke,” said lead vocalist Steve Hogarth. “As you might imagine, we are looking forward with every sinew to getting back on the road and playing it – but not as much as my wife’s looking forward to getting me out of the house though!”
For many years Marillion have enjoyed a unique relationship with their fans and were disappointed that they were forced to cancel their biennial fan weekend conventions, always a highlight of their year, until 2022 because of the risks of the pandemic. Instead they organised a Couch Convention weekend in September 2020 which was a great success and raised £31,530 from donations for their crew who have been hard hit financially by the pandemic.
Marillion – Steve Hogarth (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Steve Rothery (guitars, Pete Trewavas (bass, vocals), Mark Kelly (keyboards) and Ian Mosley (drums) – are one of the most progressive bands, not just musically, but in every sense. As far back as the late 1990s, Marillion’s fans responded to an appeal posted on the fledgling Internet and donated $60,000 to sponsor an entire US tour. The band responded by creating its own website, the first rock and roll website in the UK, and initiated a change in the landscape of music.
With the support of their fans, Marillion bypassed the conventional music industry, took control of their future, and forged their own path, naming their album marillion.com. The band launched its own record label and, in so doing, freed itself up to produce some of the finest music of its career.
In 2001, Marillion took the groundbreaking step of asking fans to pre-order an album, a full 12 months before release. 12,000 people signed up, helping not only to finance the recording, but also to create a budget to launch the album Anoraknophobia. In doing so, the band invented crowdfunding with each of their supporters thanked on a specially packaged CD.
This was anything but a one-time event and the band has since funded a number of albums this way. The crowd-funded business model has since been embraced globally to finance music, film and art which otherwise might never have existed.
In 2016, their 18th studio album F**k Everyone And Run (F E A R) hit number 4 in the album chart, their highest chart placing for almost 30 years. The following year Marillion’s Royal Albert Hall concert sold out in 4 minutes. A second show was immediately scheduled at The London Palladium for November and this also sold out. They returned to the Royal Albert Hall for their With Friends From The Orchestra Tour for two more sold out shows in November 2019.
The relationship with their family of fans continued to grow and their hugely popular biennial conventions have provided a marvelous opportunity for the band and fans to meet. Not only has Marillion’s music continued to progress and change with the times, but the band have led the way, adapting to the changing world around them while the loyalty of their fans remains undiminished.