Stephen Humphries on Marillion’s BRAVE

I recently had the chance to ask my friend, Stephen Humphries (Boston Globe, Prog, Christian Science Monitor), about his thoughts on Marillion’s BRAVE.  He graciously responded with this beautiful reply.  Enjoy.

brave cover
Arguably the first album of third-wave prog.


I was a sophomore at Hillsdale college the first time I heard Marillion’s Brave. I’d been aware of the band since its 1985 breakthrough album, Misplaced Childhood, because I’d heard the hits on the radio. But I only became an ardent fan following the release of the band’s landmark release, Season’s End, with new vocalist Steve Hogarth in 1989. (Perhaps the only time in rock history that a replacement singer has bettered his excellent predecessor.)

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Happy Easter

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:12-13

Today, and for the past several days, Christians have been celebrating a love so overpowering that it appears absolutely foolish to the minds of man. I’m continually astounded by the fact that God Himself would lay down His life so that we don’t have to spend eternity separated from Him, if we choose to lay down our pride and submit to His perfect plan. In defeating death, Jesus has made that possible. What a magnificent love.

Easter here again. A time for the blind to see.

In Concert: The Heart of Marillion

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?

mezz preshow

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Marketing Marillion: More

With their USA tour winding down, Marillion have announced street dates for the rest of their 2018 limited edition live reissues through earMusic,  listed below with original years of release:

  • March 23: Unplugged at the Walls (1999) and Tumbling Down the Years (2010)
  • May 25:  Smoke and Mirrors (both 2006)
  • July 6: Happiness Is Cologne (2009) and Popular Music (2005)
  • September 21: Live in Glasgow (1993) and Brave Live (2013)

Merch copies of the “Limited USA Tour Edition” of FEAR (which includes a sampler of the live reissues) sold out at Marillion’s recent Grand Rapids show, but it’s still available from Amazon at this writing.

Other confirmed upcoming releases include:

  • March 9: Brave Deluxe Edition
  • Spring: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  • Fall: Marillion Weekend 2017: Chile
  • ??? (nope, can’t say any more …)

Finally, watch this space for a review of that Grand Rapids show, coming soon!


— Rick Krueger

Marketing Marillion

As Marillion tours the United States (stopping at my home town this coming Sunday night!  SQUEEEEE!!!),  I’ve found the mechanics of marketing this band in a country where they’re at best a cult act fascinating.  How do you sell albums beyond your core fanbase, especially at retail, when your last album came out 16 months ago?  And, what else might that core fanbase want, or have missed?  As Marillion manager Lucy Jordache commented in the group’s North American Fan Page on Facebook, “Many retailers wanted something ‘new’ to sell and therefore advertise the tour and also press didn’t really want to cover any tour dates unless they had a ‘new product.'” So Marillion and their retail distributors earMusic (the rock division of Germany’s Edel Group) have responded with a twofold strategy.

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Marillion BRAVE pre-order news for U.S.

marillion brave

Dear Fellow Citizens of the United States,

At the moment, it is cheaper to order the 5-disc Steven Wilson remix deluxe version of the forthcoming BRAVE from Marillion through than it is through

At, including shipping, $42.

At, including shipping, $49.98.

This has been a public service announcement from your friends at

Yours, Brad

Rick’s Reissue Roundup: Attack of the Spring Box Sets!

Shed a tear for the hardcore prog collector — actually, don’t.  This week has been absolutely crammed with articulate announcements looking to part fans from their hard-earned cash or pull them deeper into debt.  And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming Derek Smalls solo album.  Check out what’s coming our way as winter (hopefully) gives way to the spring of 2018:

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My Best of 2017???

Let me just state from the outset that I love that Chris had the gumption to post his favorites albums of the year already.  We’re not even in December, Chris!  Love it.

So, just as an experiment, I checked my player’s settings and calculated the albums I listened to the most.  While I can’t claim this to be a fair statement of what I think the best of the year was–after all, some albums, such as Glass Hammer’s UNTOLD TALES.  It’s only had a month to compete against some albums that have had 11 months.  Still, it’s a marker.

Additionally, because my player calculates the number of plays for the year total, it registers all albums in my collections, not just those that came out in 2017.  So, by the number, folks, by the numbers—the ten most played albums in the Birzer house for the last 11 months.

No. 10 most played of 2017:

Glass Hammer Untold


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