Steve Hogarth at the Cavern Club

Posted on 21 October 2014
By George Heron
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The lead singer of Marillion makes another triumphant solo return to the town where his day job has a great following, despite the odds being against him for reasons I shall explain later.

H, as he is affectionately known by his fans, has been making two solo visits to Liverpool per year, bringing only his piano. He brings a set list but takes requests.

Mix this with some amusing anecdotes about his personal and band life and you get a unique and unpredictable experience.

He starts by explaining to the crowd (with tongue firmly in cheek) that he does these shows “for the government” to pay the tax man and to plug his book of memoirs whilst on tour.

The commencement of introspective opener This Train Is My Life off 2008 album Happiness Is The Road betrays the true intentions of H at this show – to put his heart and soul into singing great songs from his back catalogue in an intimate way that only he could pull off.

The Marillion back catalogue is not the only thing plundered in this semi-improvised set list. He also throws in songs by McCartney (Maybe I’m Amazed), Lennon (Instant Karma), Kate Bush (Cloudbusting) and even Abba (little known hit from their last album The Visitors, The Day Before You Came). He made them all seem like his own.

Hogarth devotes one section of the show to a reading of his book: an interesting story about his experience filming a music video for the song Dry Land (from Seasons End 1990) in Ireland.

The majority of the audience listened intently but here I must address problems with the gig mentioned in my first paragraph.

FIrstly, the crowd struggled to understand how one needs to behave at an intimate concert like this where the artist is one man and his instrument.

In order for everyone to get maximum enjoyment of this spectacle, it is preferable for everyone to be quiet and enjoy the music. The majority of the audience did not understand this and there was an overtone of chatter throughout most of the songs.

To make matters worse, a drunken woman decided to clap absurdly loud through most of the show. A clap as loud as H’s music being pumped out The Cavern’s PA system. Pathetic troll.

The other issues that affected enjoyment of the gig were in relation to the venue itself.

There was a artist playing music next door who could be often be heard clearly whilst H was playing. Even with the door to the H venue closed, it was still audible and annoying.

The Cavern was also very hot with no air conditioning on.

I think Steve Hogarth could do with a more fitting venue for what he is trying to do. Maybe a theatre which would set the tone better for the type of event it is.

Despite these discrepancies, H was a consummate professional.

Nothing fazed him whatsoever. He has such great banter with the audience.

He might drop a chord or two when he’s doing an off-the-cuff number but he adapts quickly and his outstanding voice shines through it all.

I truly believe he is one of the, if not the best British Vocalist at the moment and should be celebrated as so.

He’s got the range, power, emotion and uniqueness that lifts him above his peers.

Catch him and his band at the HMV Ritz Manchester on December 10th.

Photo credit: Lindsay J. Panting