Words: Justin Hulford.
An unexpected weekend…
We’d got our tickets ages ago and finally, after two cancellations for illness on previous tours, we were all set for the gig. And then Lemmy died. With other plans already paid for in London on this weekend we looked around and found a show by the Marillion frontman.
Now most people probably think that this means Fish but those in the know, and it’s hardly a secret, will be aware that Steve Hogarth came on the Marillion scene twenty seven years ago!
I hadn’t been to the 100 Club, on Oxford Street, for a very long time. It’s predominantly a jazz and blues venue so I am struggling to think who I saw there many years ago, perhaps Gary Moore. But after we made our way to a couple of the narrow seats it seemed fitting that one of the many original photos looking down on us was the Motorhead frontman himself!
Steve had a grand piano and keyboard set up and more or less stumbled on to stage just after eight, somehow avoiding the many candles lining the front. He then went into Bowie’s “Heroes” and the mood was subdued. Yes, the quality was high, but he seemed as sombre as the presentation of his first song.
He then rolled through a few songs I didn’t know and chucked in some interesting covers such as “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. Again the standard was superb but there was a slightly odd mood. Steve seemed down, later admitting that this unexpected one-off show had made him very nervous, and there was very little banter. I’ve seen one of these shows before and that, combined with his very upbeat mood, was a real feature.
I have to be honest that despite the quality, he was losing my attention. And then he played a solo version of Marillion’s “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” and it lifted everything! He then rattled through a mix of Marillion and covers, with an especially good Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and also read a superb story from his memoirs. It was like a different show and such a shame that he had waited for two thirds of the night to make it come alive!
I suspect the tequila had a hand. He had brought a very large bottle on stage and shared it round with anyone that had a shot glass, and with so many people he knew closely in the crowd I suspect there might have been some wallowing imbibement pre-show.
Overall it was a good night but not a patch on the previous time I caught his solo act at Glasgow’s Oran Mor a couple of years ago. He remains a polished performer and it says something that he did eventually recover what had initially been quite a flat night. Quality only goes so far though and this show really needed the Steve part to be up for it – he completed the sandwich with Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and it was a great version but seemed to drag him back to the sombre place, and perhaps his choice of opening and closing artist to cover was a little too difficult for him.
I still enjoyed it and would go again. But hopefully not too many rock icons will pass away in the previous month next time as the upbeat Hogarth is a much better proposition.