Friday, June 29, 2012


I had a friend Tom in the 80's-he was actually more Rich and Terry's friend Tom. At  Terry's wedding, Tom told me all about this band Marillion who sounded like "old Genesis" that I had to check out. The next day I picked up a copy of "The Theiving Magpie" and was hooked.

Since then, they've become my second favorite band (edging out Springsteen but behind Todd). I've got everything they've ever released, inclduing the 40 or so "authorized bootlegs" released on CD (stopped after they went download only), the remasters, the studio series, the holiday releases, all the live DVD' name it..

Marillion are not a household name anywhere, and even less so in the United States. They tour here infrequently and tend to stick to the big cities.

And as much as Phoenix AZ wants to think of itself as a big city...I got bad news for ya, desert rats-we ain't!

So for two decades, every time Marillion hit the USA, events conspired against my being able to travel to see them.

As a result, when their 2012 US tour was announced, I was going even if I had to quit my job to do it.

Since I was going to be on the east coats for a wedding in early June, I opted to see the band at their second Los Angeles show, at the House Of Blues on Sunset. My friend Dfly was up for the show, and also was up for flying us there.

Dfly has a small experimental plane that he built from various household appliance parts, and while it looks like it may be small, it is almost as roomy as my Mazda Miata convertible.

But I've flown with him quite a bit and have not died in a fiery explosion, and it saves a s#!tload of driving time, so what the heck-we only live once.

Thursday June 24 was a perfect day, so Dfly and I pop-started the plane and were on our way! Did I mention that the plane does not have conditioned air? And that it gets hot in Arizona? Hey, I'm not complaining! We got to LA by 10:30 and were at Amoeba Music by 11.

Now, Stephen T. McCarthy has the distinction of having gotten to Amoeba Music before me. Well actually, every customer at Amoeba before 11 am on Thursday has been there before me, but I know him. And to spare Dfly the agony of waiting all day for me to pore through their bins, I only pored through the used CD bins, and very quickly. Stephen did a nice post mentioning Amoeba on his blog here, so I will not do a half-assed review here but will refer you to Stephen's well as stealing a couple of Stephen's images!

Suffice it to say that it's a good store. One thing Arizona does have going for it is Zia Records (see my post from last summer if you wanna know more), and Amoeba may be as good. It's bigger, but I'd need more time and multiple visits to see if the store yields the same number of finds as Zia. But if you are in LA, you'd be a fool not to stop in.

After some other touristy stuff, Dfly and I donned our Marillion shirts and made our way to the House Of Blues to see a progressive legend!

The show opened with “Splintering Heart”, and we were off. Dfly made the comment that he thinks they come across better live than on record, and I will say that the live show demonstrates just how well H's voice and Steve's guitar suit the music's mood.

H can belt out rockers when he needs to, like the second number, “Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven), bleeding right into a blistering “Slàinte Mhath.”

But when he needs to be ethereal because the music is a jam that washes over you, his voice works, too, and Steve's guitar always seems to match the mood as well.

The first encore was the epic "This Strange Engine," and the band returned for the obligatory "Kayleigh," along with a couple of other classics.

The whole set list:

So there it is-after more than twenty years I finally get to see Marillion, Dfly finally gets to see Graumann's theater, and I'm going to have to go back to LA to really do Amoeba Music justice!

Hey Dfly-all kidding aside, thanks for flying us out there and getting us back safe!


    Based on the band photos you posted it seems you must have had some pretty good seats at The House Of Blues.

    I saw Huey Lewis And The Newts there once, with a girlfriend (her favorite band), but they weren't great seats.

    Funny you borrowed my photo of the dude walkin' his dog in Amoeba Records. I'm sure that was the first time I ever saw something like that; and how many record stores actually have room enough (and plenty to spare) for dog-walkin'?

    And I kinda like that blog bit of mine that you linked to. It was too long, no doubt, but I sure loaded it with a lot of music (mostly Rock) references, from the title I stole from The Doors, to the lyrics I lifted from Springsteen ('Lost In The Flood') and everything in-between.

    The first time I was at Amoeba, I was reminded of you instantly. I entered the store from the underground parking stairwell, where they have hundreds of LP covers tacked to the wall. One of them that is almost impossible not to notice is from one of the later 'Rocky' movie soundtracks.

    So, as soon as I entered Amoeba, in the 'Rock' section they're playing Thin Lizzy's 'Bad Reputation' (which I'm sure I must have told you was my favorite LP at the time it was released in late '77) and simultaneously in the 'Jazz' section they happened to be playing the soundtrack to the first 'Rocky' movie from '76. So, there was that Time Warp effect, and thoughts of scenes shot on the streets of Philadelphia.

    I was in Amoeba again (for maybe 45 minutes) in the middle of May, and this time I actually BOUGHT the compact disc soundtrack of 'Rocky' (1976), which I had owned on Licorice Pizza "back in the day".

    So I guess there's just something "you" about Amoeba, even if there is no "u" in the word.

    ~ Stephen

  2. Stephen-

    I never think to avail myself of the capabilities of a cell phone to take pictures-thos pictures are from the Toronto show (found them online).

    We were standing at the bar off to stage left-the only tables with seats had a $200 minimum and the floor was packed.

    I may have stayed longer at Amoeba but I'd parked at a meter and they limit the time during the day. I may head back later this summer so I can do the store justice...


  3. Yeah, I'm sure you could easily remain occupied in that store for hours.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  4. I don't know if I like anything enough to board an experimental plane. Glad it was a great show!

  5. He's got to call it experimental since he built it himself.

    But it is every buit as sound as his old plant, which was built by Grumman.

    What you want to watch out for is when someone says, why don't you take it for a spin?