THEY'RE the coolest uncool band on the planet, but Marillion never fail to deliver. Quite simply they are a force for good, as was proved in Belfast's Ulster Hall. 

Forget everything you may have perceived as musical excellence before. Disregard any notions you have of what prog rock is. This was a show to wallow in, to sit back and enjoy - apart from the moments when you rise from your seat to applaud the excellence.

And, unusual for a rock show, this was an entirely seated affair in the venerable old venue. That said, it was probably for the best lest the audience be overcome and become wobbly on their feet at the feat being performed in front of their disbelieving eyes and ears.

A lush musical landscape was painted, aided and abetted by a stage show that was as revelatory in storytelling as it was a feast for the eyes.

To re-count the setlist song by song would be an injustice as the arch-contrarians and mix it up every night as Steve Hogarth conceded, claiming they were just trying things out - sorry Steve you don't have your backdrop and lights coordinated with such precision if you're just mixing it up.

Nestled throughout the set, the various parts of 'Leavers' provided a link through all the set - and yes they were eyes closed and revel in the moment parts of the show.

Sure, the likes of 'Seasons End' and 'Vapour Trails In The Sky' may have been the highlight moments for some, but it was the completeness of the show that held all rapt.

Hogarth joked amiably throughout - including their road crew's confusion at their last Belfast appearance in the Empire - but they were mere interludes.

Rothery was his usual self in an expressive series of solos, with Kelly adding the sort of emotive keyboard sounds only he can deliver.

But the anchoring of Trewavas and Mosley is the key that allows the sweep of all the other elements. In Belfast what was evident is that this rhythm pairing nail it down, but still manage to have the sensibility to add flourishes when necessary, to make the runs when necessary and still never drop a single note or miss any one of the complex time signatures.

This was as complete a Marillion show as you could wish for. And, better still, it was so different from what has gone before (and, apparently afterwards) that was a unique Belfast show.

Come back soon!

Review by Jonathan Traynor

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