Not your usual sta­dium block­buster me­moirs.

Prog - - Echoes - FL

There was a point in the 1970s when the live al­bum rep­re­sented a band’s com­ing of age. It was some­thing you earned the right to re­lease, a won­drous arte­fact prefer­ably recorded far from Bri­tain’s shores in some ex­ot­i­cally named hall and over­dubbed to the point where it wasn’t re­ally a live al­bum at all, but what the hell.

These days a live al­bum is far more likely to be a tour sou­venir than a ca­reer land­mark, and it’s just pos­si­ble that Marillion, trail­blaz­ers as ever, may have been partly to blame for the for­mat’s demise. For it was in 1984 that the band re­leased Real To Reel, a bud­get makeweight that felt like a throw­away re­lease when com­pared to the elab­o­rate gate­fold splen­dour of their stu­dio out­put.

Cut to 2018 and they’re still at it. This year Marillion will re-re­lease eight live al­bums (like clay pi­geons, they’re be­ing fired out in pairs), and these two fol­low hot in the foot­steps of Jan­uary’s duo of Hol­i­days In Eden Live – recorded at the Marillion Week­end in Port Zé­lande, The

Nether­lands, in 2011 – and Size Mat­ters, from the same event in 2009.

Up first is Un­plugged

At The Walls, a live acous­tic al­bum recorded at a restau­rant in the Welsh bor­der town of Owestry in 1998. Orig­i­nally re­leased by Racket Records the fol­low­ing year, it’s most no­table for a trio of un­likely cover ver­sions. There’s a lovely, wist­ful take on Ra­dio­head’s Fake Plas­tic

Trees, a straight­for­ward ver­sion of

The Bea­tles’ Black­bird fea­tur­ing bassist Pete Tre­wavas on acous­tic gui­tar, and a mourn­ful run-through of Dion’s 1968 hit Abra­ham, Martin

And John. Beau­ti­fully recorded, it cap­tures the band at a spe­cial mo­ment, re­laxed amid the cream teas and rat­tling cut­lery.

For the sec­ond al­bum, Tum­bling Down The Years, we head back to

2009 and Cen­ter Parcs in Port Zé­lande. Another Racket orig­i­nal, it might not share the uniquely bu­colic feel of Un­plugged, but it’s solid enough, and This Train Is My Life and Slainte Mhath are out­stand­ing.

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