Marillion at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 18, 2018.
Waiting for Marillion to take the stage, my thoughts drifted to the rest of those gathering in this well-appointed concert club. Why were they here?
Doubtless, there were locals who, when they heard Marillion was returning to Grand Rapids after 20+ years, anticipated pure nostalgia — “Kayleigh,” “Incommunicado,” “Hooks In You,” “No One Can,” fixtures of local rock radio in the early 1990s. After all, why else would a band with no more than a cult following tour the States, if not to play the hits?
Then there were the hardcore fans, the ones I’d hung with in Facebook groups for a couple of years now. People from GR, Kalamazoo, and Detroit who’ve traveled nationally and internationally to see the band since their last Michigan stops — some 30, 40 or more times. The folks who converged on this mid-size Midwestern city from (for example): Bangor, Maine; Hillsboro, Oregon; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Baja, Mexico; and Stoke-on-Trent, England, telling stories of their first Marillion experiences, sometimes stretching back more than four decades. Not to mention “The Nine,” as they named themselves, who’ve seen every show on the current US tour. They all have their favorite songs — but they knew that much more was coming than a rote run-through of career high points.
And then there was me — a Marillion fan since Seasons End, but only on my fourth show (still way behind King Crimson and Rush), bringing my wife and two friends for their first experience of the band, ten minutes away from my house. I couldn’t help but wonder: what connects us? Why this band? What’s at the heart of this experience?
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