Just lately, the media has been full of breathless stories about how alt-rock chanteuse Amanda Palmer has raised more than a million dollars (and counting) via Kickstarter. Suddenly, it seems, the world has shifted for artists, whose creativity is no longer subject to the whims and ledgers of faceless recording megaliths. But don’t bother telling Marillion about crowd-sourcing: This veteran British band was there from the beginning—and even before then.
To be precise, in 1997 Marillion benefited from an American fan base that wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sans major-label support for the first time in 15 years, the group announced that it couldn’t afford to visit the U.S. Undaunted, a single fan sparked a Web-based fund drive, ultimately netting $60,000 to support a stateside tour that became the stuff of legend. Inspired, Marillion has responded shrewdly, preselling tens of thousands of records through fan campaigns prior to recording them, and packing weekend-long conventions on two continents.
“So what the hell does this band sound like?” you ask. A chopsy patina of Marillion’s prog-rock-revival salad days lingers, but you get a stronger sense of what feeds its dreamy musings and reflective lyrics nowadays by scanning the track list of Friends, a 2007 live album that includes Beatles, Elvis Costello, Split Enz and Keane covers—and an only slightly cheeky take on Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” Hitting U.S. shores for its first full-band visit since 2004, Marillion promises two completely distinct sets in New York, including first airings of songs from Sounds That Can’t Be Made, its forthcoming 17th LP.—Steve Smith
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