by Rick Krueger
Hot on the heels of next year’s Cruise to the Edge on February 3-8, Marillion will mount the second United States leg of their ongoing FEAR tour. This time around, they’ll play towns and cities in the South, Northeast and Midwest they haven’t visited for a while. Dates are as follows:
Friday 9 February The Plaza Live Orlando, FL
Saturday 10 February Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA
Monday 12 February Carolina Theatre Durham, NC
Tuesday 13 February Palace Theatre Greensburg, PA
Thursday 15 February Town Ballroom Buffalo, NY
Friday 16 February Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI
Sunday 18 February 20 Monroe Live Grand Rapids, MI
Monday 19 February The Arcada Theatre St Charles, IL
Wednesday 21 February Granada Theater Dallas, TX
I can vouch for the Royal Oak Music Theatre in metro Detroit (where I’ve seen Todd Rundgren and Steve Hackett) and the Arcada Theatre in west Chicagoland (where I’ve seen Neal Morse with District 97 opening) as fine, welcoming places for this kind of show. But I’m especially jazzed that the boys are coming to the sleek new venue 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids, my home town. Steve Hackett brought his terrific Genesis Revisited with Hackett Classics tour there this past February; it turned out to be a great spot for a prog show. And this booking answers the fervent wishes and prayers of more Marillionaires than you might think!
Owing to a long-standing communal love of prog and the dedicated advocacy of local radio legend Aris Hampers, there’s been an eager Marillion fanbase here ever since they opened for Utopia at the Lowell Showboat, touring Script for A Jester’s Tear. By the late 1980s, the band was regularly filling DeVos Hall, Grand Rapids’ mid-size auditorium. When I moved here in 1990, I was pleasantly shocked to hear “Kayleigh,” “Lavender” and even “Incommunicado” regularly on drive-time rock radio! And the enthusiasm continued after Steve Hogarth replaced Fish; his The Invisible Man: Diaries 1991-1997 recounts a memorable GR weekend of packed in-store appearances, dinner and entertainment with Hampers, and a sold-out club show (yep, I was there) while touring Holidays in Eden.
As Marillion’s profile faded in the US, their visits here petered out as well; the last time the boys played Grand Rapids was on the crowd-funded tour for This Strange Engine. From the buzz on the band’s North American Fan page on Facebook, already building since this morning’s announcement, GR fans will be more than ready to give the band (along with fans from all over the country, the continent and the world) a warm, grateful welcome. If Marillion isn’t playing near you on this tour, feel free to come visit us next February! (Yes, it’ll probably be cold — but between the indoor skywalks that run for nearly a mile and the unbelievable density of craft breweries, brewpubs & craft distilleries downtown, there will be ways for everyone to stay warm.)
Tickets for the tour go on sale to the general public on Friday, October 6. Venue presales may start before then; the Facebook page will be the best place to get info, presale codes, etc.