We’ll get to the primary point of this review first: If you are a fan of Marillion, you’ll like this live album (or DVD set, whichever you choose). The performances are well done, the recording nicely executed, and it is probably all you could ever hope for out of a live recording, provided you don’t think about it too much.
If you have cause to ruminate, you’ll remind yourself that the band’s last album of brand new material was 2008’s Happiness Is The Road. Since then, there was the acoustic re-recordings collection Less Is More and what feels like at least eleven or twelve live releases, mostly culled from their annual Marillion Weekend festivals. All that is missing from the trifecta is the Best Of collection which I don’t know whether it exists or not, but at this rate I guess there’s that high probability.
That makes me kind of sad. Here’s a group that has steadfastly run against the marketplace standards, not only going independent, but releasing those independent recordings in lavish packaging and really being proud of them versus the “We’re doing it for the money” and “Kinkos Copy Shop is our label now” models their contemporaries have either decided to or been forced to adopt. They controlled their destinies, making music that sometimes was vastly different than expectations, and sometimes so satisfyingly on-target with what fans wanted, it created this odd kinship with them.
No, the glut of live albums does not change that. It would take quite a bit of hostility from either side to sour the relationship. It does remind one, however, that even though they’re in the process of writing new material, the rest of the recording industry has caught up with them and, in that interception, the acoustic album, the live album, the Best Of, and the (hopefully not coming soon) covers album have not only kept many a band on life support, but have given their critics ammunition against them. As a general music fan, there are only a scant few artists I would welcome a covers album from, and the rest all strike me as having run out of any original ideas. It’s a thought I would never want to attach to Marillion. Happily, the Marillion Sings The Great American Songbook album has not, repeat NOT, been discussed.
So if you’re a fan and have not been buried by an avalanche of live recordings yet, Live From Cadogan Hall is actually a fine place to start. They’re in solid form, sporting a great set list that spans from lead singer Steve Hogarth’s earliest miracles (“Easter”) to later ones (“This Train Is My Life”), but for the die-hards like me, you’ll be reminded that this could very well be interim product…and the interim has been vast as of late.