Weekend 2009
Port ZĂ©lande, Netherlands, 20-23 March
Disclaimer: This is not an official Marillion web site. It has never been approved or probably even read by Marillion. Nothing said here is anything more than opinion. To visit the official Marillion site click on the logo to the left.
This part of the site is dedicated to the Marillion Weekend 2009. Right now I'm sat on a train from Zwolle desperately trying to get something ready for tomorrow becuase it is tomorrow that the party starts. The truth is that unlike this time two years ago I am totally unprepared. Mostly this is down to a cold that I picked up a few days ago but also because I've been working away from home with little chance to get behind the computer. So if all this looks a little familiar and rushed well sorry.

A big change from last time is that we will be bringing our daughter, Yizi, along. We have only had 10 months to get her indoctrinated into the Marillion family since adopting her from China. If you are at the convention and you see us and have any burning questions then please do come over and talk, we really are both quite happy to talk about the experience.

Again the convention is very near home and again a load of friends are coming over from the UK to join us at the convention. I really do hope to keep the site updated over the weekend but demands on my time are quite high.

Friday, Getting Settled in.

Toby SebastienToby Sebastien Well we have arrived in Centre Parks by car and were directed to park up and wonder off to the adventure factury to pick up our challet keys and other essentials. However our friends had already arrived by bus and picked up the welcome packs so all we needed to do was to find them and get settled into our cottages. We are lucky in that we have assigned two next door to each other and the location is really quite central. We have found that centre parks is running free bicycle hire and so we have picked up one each and it has really proved useful for getting around.

The stage arrangement is the same as last time with a large tent constructed in one of the car parks. The arrangement for disabled people and those that simply don't want to stand is much better than the previous event because there is a raised viewing area and, at the back of the tent, a sloped seating area too.

The guy in the pictures here is Toby Sebastien, he was the opening act introduced by Mark. He was a one man act with guitar and proved quite popular. He has his own myspace account but since myspace decided to delete my account without explanation you'll have to track it down for yourself (that is my one man futile revenge).
Friday set list Deity at work Marillion hit the stage at the exact time they were scheduled to, 8:30. I had had to run off to the challet because I could not find the larger of my memory cards and needed to upload contents to the laptop before running back to catch the start of the show. The Season's End component of the set list was well publicised before hand and was really well received. There was some joking after they had finished The Space and had our money they could just leave, luckily they chose not too and instead carried on for a little while longer.

Some wag had decided to put up a notice behind Steve Rothery's kit which only the crew would get to see. So I thought that if an appropriate lighting moment came up I'd share it with you.

Mr Hogarth has a new guitar, it is easily recognised as it is the blue one. I know that he has had his eye on this very specific guitar for a while now and the last thing I heard during the tour late last year was that Steve had given up on ever owning it. Obviously something has changed since then. Well if you get the opportunity to speak to Steve and are stuck for things to talk about then ask about the "Blue Boy" because Steve has loads to say about it.

The Blue Boy The other blue boyI am delighted they played some of the newer stuff. Essence, and Happiness is the Road are especially appreciated and I have Whatever is wrong with you as my ring tone. I only put it on the phone when they gave out the mp3 so you could make a video to go along with it. Well I never got around to doing anything about the video other than gathering a few thoughts together. It actually took me ages to realise just how appropriate the opening lyrics are as a ring tone. Well the show closed to Happiness is the Road in the same way it had during the last tour with the band gradually leaving the stage until only the audience were left chanting "Happinness is the Road".

Well after the show we had the option of not one but two disco's. The heavier rock disco was being run by Lucy in the fun factory while Stephanie was in charge of the more intellectual Prog event in the market dome. I briefly popped in to both of them but kind of wimped out early and was in bed before 12:30.

The gallery for this evenings gig is here Photo Gallery.

Saturday, Steve gets what he has been Wishing for

Boats in the harbourLife's a beachWe decided that today would be the day that we would all go off to the beach. It's about a twenty minute walk away or slightly longer if you decide to encourage a four and a half year old to go by bike. When we got there it was vast and occupied mainly by people flying huge kites. A walk down to the water was a trip in it's own right and that's why I didn't go. Luckily the beach cafe was much nearer and sold hot chocolate with Rum and whipped cream. We have already devised the marketing slogan for this particular drink, "It's remarkably un-chocolately!". I believe some people in our party had three or four of them just to be certain it wasn't a fault in the earlier batches. I'm still not entirely sure quite how they made it to the evening sessions.

Queue for the signing sessionWe decided to check out the swimming pool. Centre Parks is known for it's swimming facilities and last time they were impressive enough but clearly there had been some rebuilding work going on and now the pool boasted an extra outside feature which was a kind of rapids where in theory you are sweaped along gently. While it was certainly very warm and delightful even with the sun and cold air I personally did not get the feeling of being sweaped along. For me it was mostly a case of shuffling along the bottom until I reached a sloping bit and then being whisked away before having to shuffle along the next bit. Still the pool half way round the feature really was a great place to relax. I'm sure if it had been equipped with a bar then there would have been a lot of fans who would never have left until show time. Another new feature was the water slide, this was a dark tube that you slide down as it takes various twists and turns. Unlike other similar slides that I've been on before, this one requires that you sit in a large rubber ring while water jets push you to full speed.

Signing sessionOver the course of the day there was also the Marillion Quiz, a gathering of the various international webs, and the signing session. As in the previous convention, the signing session was by invitation only. All the same the queue stretched quite a long way back from the entrance to the restaurant where it was being held. Another queue also formed for the merchandising. This year it was being housed in one of the challets further away from the rest of the central buildings. All the same each time I went past there was always a decent length queue.

Merch queueHaving enjoyed the swimming pool for so long I missed the start of Andrew Morris set in the fun factory. Sadly so did the lighting bloke because when I arrived he seemed to be playing in semi gloom. I decided not to bother trying to get any pictures, normally I hate to use a flash but will do so if lighting requires it but only if the artist has said it is OK.
The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree  The Wishing Tree

Steve Rothery's side project The Wishing Tree were the first opening act on the main stage for the Saturday evening. I have to admit to being fairly naive of the Wishing Tree material other than a few clips I'd listened to a few days before the convention. However those clips made me think that I'd like to hear more. I was also under the impression that the band was comprised of only Steve Rothery and Hannah Stobart so it came as quite a suprise to find a stage full of people including Pete Trewavas.

Another face that seemed familiar to me was one of the guitarists. I could not place him but had the feeling I'd seen him, or more specifically photographed him, before. Well I spoke to him afterwards and he told me he was Dave Foster who plays with Mr So and So who played at the previous convention.

It was during the Wishing Tree that I noticed that there was no official stand for merchandising for the support acts, at least not within easy reach of the main stage. I really had every intention of going and picking up a copy of some of their work but because I could not do that immediately and with all the other things going on I never actually managed to do so. Well the gallery of pictures for Wishing Tree are here Photo Gallery.

The next support act were The Reasoning. I had seen them supporting Marillion in Bristol a couple of years ago. Their style is much the same then as now, slightly dark but perhaps not as dark as you would expect from the appearance of the band. They seemed to go down quite well and the fact that they have been asked back to support again must mean they impressed someone backstage last time round. Their gallery is here Photo Gallery.

The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning  The Reasoning
The Saturday set list The theme for Saturday night's show was one song from every year of the band's history. Quite an ambitious project given the typical length of a Marillion song but they made it all the way back to 1990 before skipping a few years to end on Garden Party from 1981. I was later told that the roar of a certain well known line in that particular song was heard right across the centre parks complex so it was probably best that we were not sharing with line dancers this time round.

When I look down that set list it reminds me just how big an impact Marillion has had on so many aspects of our lives. "This Train Is My Life" seemed always to be playing when I was on the train to a job that I hated. "Somewhere Else" with it's wonderful and powerful lyrics, especially "everyone I love lives somewhere else". "The Damage" seems to be hated by so many people but I loved it's upbeat happy feel. As I was walking around the tent during "When I meet God" I saw couples hugging and in one case nearly in tears, clearly the words having a special meaning for them. Having just buried a dear friend last year, "Estonia" is another moving song for us.

"Hard as love" is a stunning track from a stunning album that allows H to become really expressive on stage. After the break H introduced "No One Can" as being one of those songs that so many Marillion fans in the past had played at their weddings. We certainly have been to one such wedding and I suspect there will be a few more in the future. "Cover my eyes" is another awesome track that always seems to get the audience singing along and this time was no exception. Well I mean you gather 3000 Marillion fans into one tent and play them a set list like this and you are bound to develop a certain atmosphere, add hundreds of giant balloons into the mix and you really have all the makings of a real party. As many of you will have noticed, Mark was bursting more than his fair share of Balloons by simply kicking them. Now these are fairly robust balloons so I thought he must have 'adapted' his shoes for the purpose. As he left the stage I tried to get a photo of the boots, the results are not entirely clear but I could make out a nail that has been gaffer taped to the sole.

I suspect that for a lot of us older Marillion fans the last two tracks will always be special because it is where it all started but I have to admit the feelings are not as strong as they used to be, play me almost anything from Brave on the other hand...

The gallery for this evenings show is here Photo Gallery.

Sunday, Fish gets revenge on H

Mini MoogMore on that caption later. I had popped in fairly late on Saturday to see the museum being run by Andy and others from the web UK. Initially I thought nobody was around until some bearded bloke said "Hi Nick". Well pearing past the beard I realised this was Andy Rotherham himself. We chatted for a while and it was then that I learned that he was raising money for the charity Project Enlighten being run by Asad Rahman and Olivia Lorge who some of you will remember from the 2007 convention. The idea is that you can put money in one bucket for Andy to keep the beared and another for him to lose it. Later on, during the band Q&A we were to learn that Andy had lost his bid to remain bearded as so many women were prepared to dig deep and fill the 'lose it' bucket.

I really could have spent so much longer photographing in the museum. I have not managed to do the place justice. It was really good to see that so many people who had acquired Marillion collectables were prepared to lend them back to the Museum so that we could all enjoy them over again. I've included some photos of the more photogenic items here but there really was loads more to see. I was especially delighted to find the day glow Jesus was still working after all this time.


In the afternoon we decided to give the swimming pool another visit. I seem to remember that last time you received a voucher for one free session. Well this time the gates were thrown open so that anyone attending the convention could go as often as they liked.

After swimming I went along to the final of the Marillion quiz. Having massacred all comers in previous years, the Cakey Boys were not allowed to enter this year. However as a consolation they were asked to set the questions and they did a good job of it too although not good enough to allow Susan's End (the finalists) to beat the band.

The winner of the raffle.Following the quiz we had the draw for the winners of various prizes in the charity raffle. The lucky winner of the first prize was a young guy who seemed completely unable to stop smiling not only while on stage but afterwards also. And why not, it really was a terrific prize of a book with hand written lyrics and signed by the entire band.

After the prize draw there were the questions for the band. It seems that if there are to be any elopements within the band then Ian will be the most popular as he controls the money. And we were once again reassured, by Pete this time, that they have absolutely no plans to stop Marillion because it is what they love doing.

You can see more photos from the museum, the quiz, and the Q & A here Photo Gallery.
Anne-Marie Helder Pete and RobAfter the fun and games of the quiz and the Q&A session it was time to get back to more musical things. The first of these was Anne-Marie Helder who was appearing in the fun factory. After the dismal lighting at the Andrew Morris set I really was not expecting to have to get the camera out but actually they had managed to improve the lighting and Anne-Marie seemed to have drawn a bit of a crowd. Unfortuneately I could only stick around briefly but reading her biography perhaps I should have made the effort to stay longer.

The opening act in the main tent on Sunday was Pete and Rob's experimental Whimsy. Pete being our very own Pete Trewavas and Rob being his childhood friend and possibly the person we need to thank for inspiring Pete to get into music.

Pete and RobThe experimental part of the name came from the fact that some of the music played was in a Jam style. You could really tell that these were two old friends just having some fun together.

It was during Pete and Rob's set that I had an amuzing incident unfolded. Doubtless you all saw the three camera men on top of the platform at the rear. Well one of them politely asked if I would walk really carefully on the platform because it was so wobbly that even the slightest footfall was causing camera shake and at the focal lengths they were using this was a real problem. So I promissed to do my best and tiptoed across the platform to take a shot of Pete and Rob. As I was walking back across the platform to get down a couple of people climbed up and stomped across the deck. I could feel the vibration so no doubt the camera man could too and turned to me and scowled. At which point I gestured to say it was not me and pointed to the two new arrivals, Steve Hogarth and a friend. The camera man decided to let that one go. You can see more pictures of Pete and Rob here Photo Gallery.

The next act up were A Genuine Freakshow. They were a seven piece band who were clearly not used to such a large audience, they announced that the last audience was only 30 people so playing to a decent part of the 3,000 people at the convention must have been quite daunting.

I enjoyed the bulk of the set but sadly found that I was low on memory and had to rush back to the challet to upload everything. This meant I missed the last five minutes of the set and the chance to photograph the band together backstage.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a demo CD and having now listened to it I can see why some people have compared the band to Sigur Ros. There is certainly something about the wild vocals that seems familiar. There are a few more shots of them in the gallery here Photo Gallery.

A Genuine Freakshow A Genuine Freakshow A Genuine Freakshow A Genuine Freakshow A Genuine Freakshow A Genuine Freakshow

Set List Having rushed back to the challet to upload the memory cards I rushed back with only minutes to spare before Marillion were due to hit the stage. However what I heard was Lucy announcing a delay. It turns out that H ate something that disagreed with him and that something was fish (more specifically Salmon).

While everyone backstage was trying to work out what the fall back plan was going to be if H were not to recover in time there was a sudden quiet as they realised that the gathered audience were listening to the Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict A Riot. The prospect of not getting to hear that set list being played was a little worrying.

Well as we all now know, H did recover and the entire band hit the stage about half an hour later than scheduled. Given that he had been unwell he really gave a great performance going on to complete the entire scheduled performance including several epic pieces. In fact when you consider that a set by most other bands comprising only 13 songs would last perhaps 45 minutes or an hour tops it is amazing to think that H and the guys were just finishing up two and a half hours later.

I had been told about the shower of confetti that was due to be launched during Neverland. I was told this was going to be unlike any confetti Marillion had ever previously used. This was going to use three separate canons each of which was powered by compressed air to launch the confetti high over the audience. So you might be wondering where the pictures of this stupendous event is. Well I thought a brilliant place to get a shot would be from behind the gap between Ian and Mark's risers. I mean H in his classic Neverland pose with a storm of confetti and three thousand fan's, how could it go wrong? Well I was in the perfect place, H was in the right pose and the audience were really well lit. Sadly the stage was filled with fog and all I could really see was a whiteout.

Well slightly sad that it was all over for at least another two years but in great mood for having seen such a great set we went along to the Adventure Factory for one last party. Friends had told me about the DJ having ruined their evening the night before. "He keeps fading the music in and out at the wrong moments". Well I have to say it seemed very strange when he decided to fade out a Marillion track half way throught in favour of Hocus Pocus by Focus but otherwise he seemed to be getting most people in the mood.

The next morning we stuck around until all the friends were on their busses and then drove off ourselves. Overall I think this was a brilliant convention and if they decide to hold it again in the same location I will have no complaints but if they decide to move on then the next location is going to have a lot to live up to.

While I have had a great time at the convention I have to admit to being a little dissapointed in my photographs and I suspect others will be too. The break I've taken to help Yizi get settled in has really taken it's tole and I will have to try harder over the coming months to get back into the flow. As promissed I've added the galleries for the various gigs, you can see the gallery for the Sunday set here Photo Gallery.

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