Mick Pointer’s Script For A Jester’s Tour

I did not want to spoil the setlist with my blog on the Friday show, so this will combine aspects from both the Friday and Saturday at The Peel in Kingston-upon-Thames, or should that be the new Marquee…
I feel I should provide some background to allow you to fully appreciate how I came to these gigs…I was brought up in a town very close to Aylesbury and got to hear about Marillion very early on in their career, and from that came to hear about the new prog rock scene which was coming into existence.  I managed to get into some local gigs to see Marillion and then started a regular pilgrimage to The Marquee to see them and other bands such as Pendragon, Twelfth Night and IQ.  I was sneaking in underage and was at the 30 December 1982 gig which is on the recent Early Stages boxset.  I was 7 days past my 15th birthday when I saw them at the Reading Festival, opening with Grendel as the dusk descended and blowing Black Sabbath off stage.  So this was a return to a first love for me, and I could not think of a better cast to play alongside Mick Pointer, especially the keyboard sound of Mike Varty, very familiar from Credo. And it would prove fascinating to see and hear Nick Barrett playing the Steve Rothery parts.
Brian Cummings is an accomplished frontman and played his part very well, despite a quiet audience on the Friday – the audience took their time to warm up, and it was no fault of the band, who were on fine form and keeping very much to the original sound and score.  The Saturday crowd (yes, far more of a ‘crowd’ than the Friday audience) were more vocal from the start, more bouncy throughout.  Maybe the Friday audience were intimidated by Brian’s (Brish ? lol) ‘Hitler moustache’, caused when he blew his nose and smudged the greasepaint – noticed by all the band, but mentioned by none of them.  Script took us back once more, with 4 prog legends and a scouser.  The guitar sound seemed to be updated for He Knows You Know, the song Brian had used to audition for the band – fortunately he had not slipped into scouse that time and changed it to He Does Know Don’t He Though – and little touches like that made it very clear that he was not setting out to simply try to be a Fish impersonator, which, as a fan himself, he knew would be an impossible task  – most times he did try his Scottish accent it came across as Billy Connelly anyway. And thus began The Web, with full theatrics of the rubber plant, my foliage of choice through my teenage years – I have always thought this to be a much underrated track, when for me it has a certain epic majesty, and that came through with Ian Salmon’s bass.  And now we party – it’s a Garden Party, with a cucumber left on stage on the Saturday – and it’s like Glastonbury with strippers down at The Peel, and a big shout when we get to ‘I’m fucking’ – nice !  And he was so bold to suggest Othello to Ashleaze.  Now, for me Chelsea Monday (Chelsea Bun Day) had a different sound to the solo, though Nick Barrett reckons it was only the slide part which may have been slightly changed – I will defer to his far greater knowledge ! It remains sublime and one of my favourites, not just from this album, but from all the Marillion repertoire.  After such a wonderful rendition from Nick, it was appropriate to be reminded that Pendragon had won Album of the Year at the CRS Awards, but it sounds like we were lucky to have him with us after Steve Hackett almost closed his fingers within the box holding the award.  It’s really not a political song, honest.  Forgotten Sons retains its power, Brian dons the camo kit and lets loose with the mike stand – and great to hear Mick Pointer’s familiar drum sound.
Then we were into the B sides.  3 Boats Down From The Candy, I remember you.  I have always found this somewhat dark, and maybe it would be more suited to taking girls to Toxteth cemetary.  It is perfect for the confines of the darkened Peel.  Fish certainly had a way with words, and used that to full effect in Charting The Single, which made it appeal to me – I even quoted it within some English Lit homework, much to the disgust of my teacher, who said it was not a ‘proper quote’.  The guitar had a bit more echo, the sound was a little more mellow, melodic – and I wonder if Nick realised Brian was pointing at him “before the blond hairs turn to grey”.  Chants rise in anticipation, not terror, and to one of the biggest cheers of the night we hear the opening notes to Grendel.  Much maligned, though I have never understood why, and judging by the reaction from both nights at The Peel, I am not alone, and an even bigger cheer in appreciation greets the end of the track.  Yes, there’s the helm, of course, and people people are queueing up to expose their throats to his righteous claws and letting the blood flow.
The stage is too small for them to properly go off and come back on again, so after one big cheer of ‘More !’ we march…well, we bounce !  Oh, Kingston-upon-Thames we bounce !  And we are all Market Square Heroes for the night.  Even the balcony.
Then they do leave the stage, before returning for a rousing rendition of Margaret.  And as Moira Anderson eats her heart out, a dream is fulfilled.
This is all about recreating the magic, taking some of us back to a previous playground, taking others there for the first time, and the band and audience combine to make this happen.  This is not a tribute band, this is the original band member playing songs he was instrumental in creating – without him there would not have been the Marillion we knew back then – so when I hear there is adverse comment being passed about this tour I wonder how anyone can stoop that low.  Mick Pointer comes across as a lovely, humble man, who is enjoying every second of this, and who would or could deny him that ?  The guys he has around him are all fans from back in the day – it’s a great combination, obviously a perfect set, and the level of musicianship cannot be questioned.  I had a brilliant time, and I know I was not alone, and I am sure many more will say the same thing after going along to one of the shows.  This is comfort prog for the soul.
And there was a famous person in the audience on the Saturday – Clive Nolan in a Motorhead tshirt.  He knows, you know.

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