Release Date: September 2014
Steve Rothery – Guitar
Dave Foster – Guitar
Yatim Halimi – Bass
Leon Parr – Drums
Riccardo Romano – Keyboards
Manuela Milanese and Allessandro Carmassi – Guest Vocals
The Old Man Of The Sea
Waiting To Happen
Afraid Of Sunlight
Monolith pt. 2
In the run up to the release of Steve Rothery’s studio album, Ghost of Pripyat, he played two gigs with his band and this album is taken from the second of those – the first having already been released. It’s an unusual move in that I have now heard all but the title track from the studio album – they’re even in the same order! But saying that, it’s a move that might just pay off as the material in question is stunning.
First track, Morpheus, is a good indicator of the quality of the rest of the new material, starting as it does with some haunting guitar work combined with keyboards that remind me strongly of Pink Floyd with a hint of Rush which is no bad thing. But after about a minute, Steve Rothery’s unmistakable sound comes through and the song starts to take on an identity of its own. As all the new album material is instrumental there are plenty of extended periods of Steve’s gorgeous melodic playing but also passages that show the man can write great tunes, if there was any further proof needed after his work with Marillion.
The different tracks each have a completely separate feel to each other and are not just variations on the same theme or excuses for ego massaging solos but do showcase Steve’s talent well. They actually feel like “proper” songs that just don’t happen to have any words. Also none of the tracks seem to last anywhere near their running length, which is always a good sign.
Steve has surrounded himself with talented musicians for this project and each has a contribution to the overall sound which cannot be ignored. The bass of Yatim Halimi providing a great background on the quieter moments in particular and the varied drumming of Leon Parr which is sometimes subtle and at other times more noticeable depending on what suits the song. Special mention must go to Dave Foster on guitar who, as well as helping to write the music, is a very accomplished player in his own right. This is highlighted most on Summer’s End when he and Steve alternate guitar solos, with their own sounds and styles making it easy to tell who is playing.
The second disc which is made up of three Hogarth-era Marillion songs, two Fish-era ones and two tracks from Italian prog band Ranestrane that feature Rothery and are supporting him on his forthcoming tour. I have to admit to not listening to Marillion after Fish left until very recently and so I can’t make any comparisons between the vocals on this album and the originals except on Sugar Mice, where Manuela Milanese does a great job and gives the song a different dynamic. Unfortunately, I’m not at all keen on Allesandro Carmassi’s singing on Cinderella Search as the notes are simply (and obviously) too high for him to comfortably reach. He is a great singer though as he proves on Afraid Of Sunlight.
To sum up then, I would say to any Marillion/Steve Rothery fans you will love this album but that probably goes without saying. This album will also appeal, however, to a much wider fanbase and I’m sure a lot of musicians will lap it up for its songwriting and playing genius. I’m personally looking forward to hearing the studio album with its famous guest musicians and seeing how it compares to these live versions.
Written by Duncan Everson