CD Review: Marillion – A Sunday Night Above the Rain

CD Review: Marillion – A Sunday Night Above the Rain
earMusic/Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: A-

Marillion - A Sunday Night
Above the Rain 2014
An invasion of sorts took place on March 10, 2013, although it wasn't exactly an advancing horde of barbarians.

It was Marillion Weekend in Port Zelande, the Netherlands, and fans of the long-running progressive-rock collective from all over the world converged on Center Parcs to celebrate a group that's made thought-provoking and challenging, yet thoroughly accessible and soulful, music for the last 35 years.

2012's Sounds That Can't Be Made, Marillion's last record, was all of that and then some, managing to sound stylish and exotic, but also dissonant and angry in places. On this particular occasion, recorded for the exhilarating and emotionally resonant new two-disc live album A Sunday Night Above the Rain, Marillion threw every song from that album into the set for the first time, and simply stunning renditions of "Invisible Ink," "Montreal," "The Sky Above the Rain" and the title track are treated with a heightened sense of drama that is palpable, taking the band's flair for dramatic instrumentation – especially those wonderfully expressive keyboards, Steve Hogarth's heartfelt vocals and soaring guitars, courtesy of Steve Rothery – to a whole new level.

Perhaps somewhat dangerously, Marillion opens with "Gaza," a nearly 20-minute, and presciently topical considering the news of the day, epic full of passages of aching beauty that run smack into disorienting explosions of noise, growing and expanding into something even more grandiose and profound than the original. And yet the pristine, well-rounded sound of A Sunday Night Above the Rains does more to enhance and complement the sublime melodic complexities and diverse arrangements of fan favorites "Waiting to Happen," "Neverland," a synth-powered "Garden Party" and "This Strange Engine" than anything else, the crowd happily clapping and singing along in perfect unison. If Sunday is, indeed, supposed to be a day of worship, consider this concert recording a wondrous cathedral with services conducted whenever the listener chooses and sermons guaranteed to touch hearts, minds and souls.
– Peter Lindblad

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