Steve Rothery @ Band On The Wall

Steve Rothery @ Band On The Wall

Steve Rothery Band, Band On The Wall, Manchester, 4/7/15  

It came as some surprise that Steve Rothery was touring again as we only reviewed his gig at the Band On The Wall last November.  However, this was simply a warmup gig for his performance at the infamous Loreley festival.

The support for the evening was Matt Stevens doing a completely solo acoustic guitar performance with the use of loops to create a range of interesting soundscapes and sequences without taking away from Matt’s substantial guitar playing skills.  He included tracks from his excellent album Lucid including a performance of Oxymoron which saw him delve into deep synth territory courtesy of his pedals.

Stevens’ taunted the audience by offering to buy a pint for the person "who could identify the time signature of the next piece - and it's not ninths”.  A serious challenge to this crowd of Prog nuts!  Indeed, the hard-core Marillion weekenders were back in force, in fact I am fairly sure it is exactly the same crowd as last November.

Back to Stevens and his penultimate song, Arp, saw him involve the audience in some odd time signature clapping which seriously impressed him.  Overall it was a skilled and passionate performance from Matt Stevens and will have won over quite a lot of the crowd considering the extent of their applause.

After a short break the Steve Rothery Band hit the BotW’s small stage with a set that was similar in structure to their last visit here, starting off with a number of tracks from his solo album Ghosts of Pripyat.  Last November the band seemed very studious, tonight they were much more relaxed and were enjoying the performance as much as the ever faithful Marillion weekenders.  Included in this was Old Man Of The Sea which Rothery describes is possibly his favourite track on the album, and it was a stunning performance.  It was even more impressive considering they had only had one rehearsal the day before, showing how good his musicians are.

And Rothery himself was demonstrating why he is so lauded; his playing is subtle and with an amazing tone, he is possibly the finest guitarist of his generation.  He was completely absorbed in his own playing especially during the last song from Ghosts of Pripyat which was Summer's End.

The band were then joined again by StillMarillion singer Martin Jakubski for the 30th anniversary of Misplaced Childhood, a man who does an incredible job of emulating Fish’s vocals.  And the faithful were not disappointed with a set that consisted of both Fish era material Slainte Mhath, Cinderella Searchand Incubus, along with Waiting To Happen and an awesome performance of Afraid of Sunlight - choice cuts from the Hogarth era.  According to Rothery, Jakubski was able to hit the considerable high notes due to his extremely tight underwear, the question is how does Rothery know?  And although Jakubski’s vocals are a perfect match for the Fish era songs, it isn't quite the same as Hogarth’s voice, making the songs unfortunately sound like Fish was singing them.

The encore consisted purely of side one of Misplaced Childhood to the delight of everyone present.  Rothery described it as the fastest and cheapest album they'd recorded, the easiest album they'd recorded and the most fun they had making an album.  The singles Kayleigh, Lavender and Heart Of Lothian being the highlights and at the end a huge cheer, the likes of which I had never heard before at the Band On The Wall, there were even people crying!  Another hugely impressive performance from Mr. Rothery and a whole evening that was thoroughly enjoyable.

Images & Words: Anthony Firmin

Introducing: Duke Mercury

Introducing: Duke Mercury

Kaiser Chiefs @ Haydock Park

Kaiser Chiefs @ Haydock Park