You may scoff at the name Marillion, but here is a band that's half way through its 33rd year and still able and capable of bothering chart-compilers and playlisters. Formed in 1979 in the tumbledown Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury, Marillion's original line-up boasted one of rock's larger-than-life characters in lead-singer Fish, who lent a somewhat theatrical air to their brand of progressive story-telling. Being considerably taller than most humans, the Scottish tower of rock-power was possessed of stage-presence and a booming vocal delivery that, while not Brian Blessed, proved an exacting fit for Marillion's colourful escapist regalia. Until 1988, that is.
To many fans, the prospect of Fish departing their beloved group was almost unimaginable - who could fill Derek Dick's hallowed sandals? To paraphrase talent-show presenters across the TV network, Steve Hogarth 'stepped up to the plate' with enough tonsil brawn and song-writing muscle to sink a Jubilee tug. Not only did he have to live up to the writing prowess of his predecessor's ten-year tenure, he had to 'deliver the goods', 'tick all the boxes' and 'rise to the challenge' with the fans as well [you've been doing some blue sky thinking, haven't you, Paul? - Ed]. And he has. For every "Misplaced Childhood", there's been a "Season's End". For each "Kayleigh", there's been a "You're Gone".
Last year there was "Less is More", an acoustic album that revisited past Hogarth-only successes but fell short of bothering those same chart-compilers. Perhaps 2012 will see the band surprise all with another Top 30 album, mirroring their last successful studio-set, "Somewhere Else", which got them on the radio with the 2007 single "Thank You Whoever You Are".
New album "Sounds That Can't Be Made" is their seventeenth committal to plastic and download and marks a return to a straight-edged single-disc album. To promote the album, Marillion will once again be out on the road during the autumn, starting with Cardiff on 9th September, followed by Manchester, Edinburgh, Wolves and lots more until Cambridge on the 17th. There's a London show on the 16th (at the HMV Forum) and we have tickets now, priced at £24 (£28.50 for London).