Steve Rothery Band
A Collection Of Musical Curiosities
The two evenings of music (Saturday night and Sunday night for some strange reason) at the Cambridge Junction known as ‘A Collection Of Musical Curiosities’ was organized by Steve Rothery and friends to celebrate forty years as a member of Marillion.
Marjana Semkina was on first accompanied by an acoustic guitarist. She sings in a Russian band called iamthemorning and played a couple of songs by them. She has a wonderful voice and the songs sounded superb, but I wanted something louder and heavier with lots of keyboard parts as I am not really into acoustic music. I did not have to wait long.
RanestRane are an Italian quartet from Rome. They released their fifth studio album last year. A final part of their ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ trilogy. I know that Riccardo played keyboards for them, but I had never heard a note before. I thought they were stunning, despite not understanding any of the vocals (they sing in Italian). I very quickly became a fan during their set.
The Steve Rothery Band came on stage to headline. We already knew the setlist for both sets but there were still some surprises. They opened with four songs from the ‘Ghosts Of Pripyat’ album including ‘Morpheus’ and ‘Kendris’ (for some strange reason, Kendris always reminds me of Marillion’s ‘Built-In Bastard Radar’). Steve did acknowledge that it had been nearly five years since the album was released and said that they were working a follow-up.
Next up, Martin came on stage for the whole of ‘Misplaced Childhood’. I had heard Fish singing it and I heard Stillmarillion doing it but seeing this band doing it was another level. Wonderful stuff. After ‘Misplaced Childhood’, the band did a couple of h-era songs including ‘Easter’ and Afraid Of Sunlight. This was one of the highlights for me as it is the title track of one of my top five favourite Marillion albums. Steven was not feeling too well but the solo in Easter still sounded incredible. They finished on a high with Incubus from the Fugazi album.
It had been a great day and after chatting with a few people afterwards, it was time for us all to get some much-needed sleep ready for the next day.
After lunch next to the venue, at a well-known South African chicken restaurant chain, the sun was shining, and I decided to join the queue with some lovely people. After doing this I managed to get a front row space between Norbert and Pascal. Thanks guys.
Sylf aka Jennifer Rothery opened proceedings the next day. She sang a short set with Riccardo playing keyboards, Luca on guitar, Daniele on drums and Maurizio on bass. The highlight of her set was definitely ‘Into The Dark’ which is available as a download, but I do love the programmed drums on the studio version.
Riccardo stepped out from behind the keyboards to sing songs from his wonderful prog-rock-opera concept album ‘B612’ based on the 1973 book ‘The Little Prince’. His band put on one hell of a show with visuals, costume changes and with Jennifer and Martin guesting on vocals (Martin playing the king and Jennifer playing the rose). I had heard a few songs from the album stripped down to voice and piano when Riccardo and Jennifer supported Marillion last year but most of the album was new to me and I had not heard anything like that before. I would highly recommend the album.
The Dave Foster Band was next. This was technically the Steve Rothery band but with Dinet on vocals instead of Steven on lead guitar. They played a set made of songs from the new album Nocebo as well as a few other songs from Dreamless. It was at this moment that I realized how tight Dave, Riccardo, Leon and Yatim are as a quartet regardless of who else is on stage with them. Incredible.
Time for the second set from the Steve Rothery Band. They played a few songs from the Ghosts Of Pripyat again including a couple of repeats from yesterday for those who could attend. Again, Martin came back out to join the band for Clutching At Straws. I had seen this performed by the band in London last year, but this was far better (and that is saying a lot). After CAS, the band did three early Marillion B-sides including a truncated version of Grendel in which Steve managed to mess up the opening arpeggio and had to start again. This was indeed one of the highlights of the weekend and the mistake made it even better.
The funny thing is that with all those lovely people both on stage and in the audience, it felt bigger than it was. Those songs sounded massive and almost too big for a venue like the Junction. There is that cliché about seeing a big band in a small venue and seeing a small band in a big venue, but this was several bands who made a small venue feel like a big venue. We part of something very special indeed and I felt very honoured to be there.
I would like to say hello to everyone I met both on stage and off stage. I know we are all busy, but it would be rude of me not to tag as many people as possible. Pascal Gross, Dan Mayhew, Karen Parkhurst, Julie Griffiths, Veronika, Norbert, Silvana, Simona, David Dyte, Martin Sutton, the Furminger family, Paul Moore and David Cook. My apologies to anyone I missed you or if I forgot your name.
I would like to say thank you to Martin, Jennifer, Dave, Dinet, Riccardo, Leon and Yatim. Maurizio, Daniele and Massimo from RanestRane. Riccardo should get extra special acknowledgement as he played around six hours of music either singing or playing keyboards and sometimes both without making a single mistake. Finally, a massive thank you to Steven for organizing all this for us.
Slainte mhath everyone.