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Marillion - Clocks Already Ticking CD (album) cover





3.65 | 24 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Marillion's weekend-long fan conventions traditionally include at least one playthrough of an entire album from beginning to end; for the 2013 conventions, the band decided to construct each of the three gigs of the weekends around full-album playthroughs (each followed by an eclectic set of encores). Sounds That Can't Be Made, as the band's very successful new studio album, got the Sunday spot; the revered Brave came out to play on Saturday, perhaps to mark the 20th anniversary since the beginning of the recording process for that album (as well as to reflect how well-regarded the Brave full album playthrough shows were).

Friday, meanwhile, got Radiation - the first time the album enjoyed the full-album playthrough treatment at the Marillion weekends. Radiation isn't one of Marillion's better-regarded studio albums, partly due to a slightly unsympathetic production job and partly (in my view) because of the running order - frontloaded as it was with more straightforward songs, this rather eclipsed the undeniable progressive accomplishments of epics such as Cathedral Wall or A Few Words For the Dead.

That said, however, songs from Radiation have gone to become beloved features of Marillion's live sets, with sceptical fans won over by powerful onstage performances that have redeemed the material in the eyes of many. 2013 proved to be Radiation's year - as well as being performed at the Weekends, it received a much-needed remix intended to tease out its merits. I'm not one for remixed studio albums myself, and frankly I think there's only so much that after-the-fact tinkering can really do with the original recordings in this case, but the live rendition here does its best to exonerate the album, bringing the material to life in a way which the studio renditions never managed to do.

In particular, the band do an excellent job of bringing out the emotional arc of the album which the studio version obscured. It begins with the blithe, naive "I'm OK, you're OK" cheerfulness of Under the Sun which is soon punctured by the experiences of The Answering Machine and Three Minute Boy, winds its way through a dark night of the soul in the form of contemplative numbers like Now She'll Never Know, These Chains and Born to Run, before finding redemption and an emotional reawakening in the epic final two songs (Cathedral Wall and A Few Words For the Dead).

Clocks Already Ticking not only captures this material, but also includes all encores from the night, in a package combining a DVD of the concert with audio CDs. Strictly speaking it doesn't need to be on 3CDs, but the split makes sense - the first CD is the live Radiation, the second CD is the encore set, and the third CD is the post-encore encores. (You might be interested to know that it's a record-breaking set too, smashing the record for producing DVD and CD releases of a live show on the same night as the show itself, though at this point Marillion have done the "record the live show and release it on the same night" schtick so often that it's stopped feeling special).

The encore material here is worthy of note too, not least because the band include an unusual level of Fish-era material in the set. H-era Marillion went through a patch a few years back when playing Fish-era material was rare to the point of nonexistent, but from Marbles onwards they've got over their momentary desire to distance themselves from the prog community and in the course of doing so have developed a habit of often including at least one Fish song in their live sets. Here, however, we have a true seafood feast - material from every Fish-era album aside from Fugazi (which, to be fair, is the Fish-era album which I think H's vocal style is least suited to) is included here, and in the midst of Slainte Mhath H goes so far as to issue a little toast to Fish!

Perhaps the band were feeling generous since it was a few weeks before Fish's 55th birthday, but it's a special moment - not because of any twinge of hope of a reunion, because it's been made very clear that there's no real prospect of anything substantial happening on that front, but because of the H-era band comprehensively dispelling any lingering desire to distance themselves from their past.

That said, perhaps the fishy feast came about in part because of the awkward constraints that the Weekend's setlists were under. With three entire albums ringfenced for full runthroughs on the various evenings, the result here was that no material from Sounds or Brave were available for encores. Perhaps more awkwardly, Radiation itself doesn't quite feel like an album which is really suited for this sort of play-all-the-songs-in-order treatment; despite what I said above about the emotional arc of the album, I still feel that there are some nagging issues with its running order which serve to smother its finer points.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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