Glad tidings and joy! It’s the final day of the least popular series in the history of this site. Yes, the daily hits took a nosedive, but we have succeeded in reviewing every single Marillion Christmas CD. You’ll find a directory below. Thanks for reading if you did! Back to our regularly scheduled program next time.
The very last Marillion Christmas CD to date is another double live album. It’s actually a summer Festival gig (July 2015) with a shorter set, and two Christmas songs from December 2014 added at the end. Most of these tracks have appeared on other Christmas albums, all but “The Invisible Man”. It’s notable for focusing on long-bombers and only a couple of “hits”.
Not sure what’s up with the cover though, the band dressed as mad scientists, all but Pete Trewavas. It’s a suitable image I suppose, since Marillion are like the mad scientists of rock music.
17 minutes of “Gaza” opens the show, heavy as hell, one of the most intense Marillion songs of their 40 year history. It might be about the Holy land but it’s not what you’d call Christmas-y! Expect a driving ride through war-torn landscapes, with quieter respites strategically placed. Lightening the mood, “You’re Gone” kicks things up. The pop melodies and dance beats get the toes tapping.
“Oh fuck, now Pete’s gone,” says Hogarth between songs. Fortunately the bassist returns! “Power” from Sounds That Can’t Be Made follows, one of the better songs from the later years. The only anomaly on this album is “Sugar Mice”, the sole oldie in the set. “I prefer their old stuff”, Steve says to chuckles from the audience. As usual, he absolutely nails the song, a passionate poem to the down and out. The other Steve (Rothery’s) guitar solo is a song to itself, a beautiful complement to the perfect words. “Man of a Thousand Faces” from Marillion’s “acoustic period” (This Strange Engine) is different from the other songs, performed with extra expression. (“Bbbbbabble of Babylon”.) The crowd loves it and keep singing well after the song ends.
Nothing but long bombers for the rest of the show. “Neverland” (10:28), “King” (8:05), and “The Invisible Man” (15:13) represent some of the most epic Marillion music ever committed to tape. Heavy, heavy moods! Complex, driven songs, each one with mini-compositions within compositions. “Invisible Man” in particular is like listening to a stream of songs, and live, it breathes.
The added two Christmas songs, from Germany and France respectively, are ones that have appeared on Marillion Christmas CDs before. Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is a go-to for this band. Acoustic guitars, gentle keys and jingle bells are all it takes. A loungey “Christmas Song” is funny for how Steve messes up the lyrics right from the start. So it’s not the definitive Marillion version, but it’s genuine.
That’s what makes all these live performances special. There’s no fixing. Everything is how it went down. There’s no point in releasing CDs of so many individual concerts if you’re going to fix them in the mix. Whether it’s a forgotten word or a missing bassist, it’s all in.
- Happy Christmas Everybody! (1998 – Webfree 1)
- marillion.christmas (1999 – Webfree 2)
- A Piss-Up in a Brewery (2000 – Webfree 3)
- A Very Barry Christmas (2001 – Webfree 4)
- Santa and His Elvis (2002 – Webfree 5)
- Say Cheese! Christmas With Marillion (2003 – Webfree 6)
- Baubles (2004 – Webfree 7)
- Merry Xmas to Our Flock (2005 – Webfree 8)
- The Jingle Book (2006 – Webfree 9)
- Somewhere Elf (2007 – Webfree 10)
- Pudding on the Ritz (2008 – Webfree 11)
- Chile for the Time of Year (2014 – Webfree 17)
- A Collection of Recycled Gifts (2014 – Compilation with new Christmas material)
- Christmas Tour 2014 – Live at the Forum (2014 Abbey Road “instant live”)
- A Monstrously Festive(al) Christmas (2015 – Webfree 18)