Another reunion gig, and this one, 90’s live favourites Marion, held some gravitas for Rachel. She’d missed them at the Brighton Essential Festival, before we’d met, by tottering off in a drunken state to the wrong tent, and, having not had a chance to see them again, had subsequently vowed never to get drunk at a gig again! So this was a well-timed return, before the arrival of Baby Rose, next year.
I picked Rach up from work, and, avoiding mad lorry drivers, we parked and tubed over, hitting the venue about 8.15. This was a fine little venue; a wide, balconied room with good eyeline and an upstairs bar affording vistas of the Thames, South Bank, Parliament and the London Eye!
We just caught the end of Scott’s set, Scott being a floppy fringed young solo troubadour in a Dashboard style. However, we caught all of Neil’s Children’s set; a black clad lot who’d clearly been raiding their mums' crimpers and hair dye boxes, they played an itchy, insistent set of zeitgeisty new wave, on one occasion threatening to break into Bauhaus’ "Dark Entries"! Shouty, in your face, they were actually quite good – one of this year’s better support slots!
Had a superb balcony view at the top of the stairs, stage right, for Marion at 9.45. This was a welcome return for more than one reason; not only were this lot one of the most consistently exciting, visceral and incendiary live acts of the 90’s, but singer Jamie Harding subsequently had more than a dalliance with heroin, so to see him "clean" and back performing was very gratifying. However, gaunt, black clad and pallid of complexion, he looked like a recovering addict, and his performance initially faltered behind the tight, well-rehearsed band of youngsters he and other original member Phil Cunningham had assembled. Opener "Fallen Through" was messy, and a couple of new numbers followed unobtrusively, before bass drum problems forced a pause in the set.
However, on their return, the always excellent live "Time" transformed things, igniting the crowd and the set. Jamie’s voice thereafter took flight, soaring and commanding as in his pomp, and we had a real Marion show on our hands. Oldies, such as the anthemic "Let’s All Go Together" were lapped up, and new numbers, short and snappy, sounded promising, proving they’re still in thrall to Joy Division and "Heaven Up Here"-era Bunnymen, which ain’t a bad place to be, particularly nowadays.
An all-too-short 40 minute set was followed by a 4 song encore, culminating in a thrilling "Sleep", Jamie on harmonica, drenched in sweat, giving his all and closing the set perfectly. So a vindicating experience overall, worth the rare trek to London on a school night. Marion – they’re back, a great way to end gig year 2006!