Marion - Night & Day Manchester - 16.9.06

When Beard returned with his new band RYNA earlier this year for their first ever gig with Designer Magazine rumours of the impending return of Marion were well underway and the rumours came to fruition with a low-key gig in Bath. And then of course things went quiet and we were left unsure as to the bands plans with Phil Cunningham still performing with New Order and Jaime's Hardings on going problems. You see Marion had always been a passionate band who acted on impulse and their last ever Manchester show was marked with a muted response from the audience only for the band to refuse to come back for an encore. At this time the second album had received a release with little or no promotion from the label which left the band struggling and many of the bands having to buy the album on import from Japan. A few months later after the band had gone off the radar the story broke out that Marion's lead singer had been jailed for stealing a gnome or something ridiculous to feed his smack habit...remember kids this was the days before Doherty would be followed around by a film crew with NME poking their head around the corner wanking away as man hits rock bottom.

With fans travelling from Germany, Japan and Spain to witness this comeback gig the stakes are high and we're all well aware this could end in tears and as Designer Magazine walks to the back of the stage 20 minutes before stage time Harding walks in spaced out staggering down the stairs. By the time he hits the stage minutes later he's standing tall looking ever the elegant rock star he used to be and our fears are dampened. Not only are Marion back but they're better than ever with a collection of new songs that sound contemporary and could easily fit in with the zeitgeist while not consciously trying to fit in with anything

Perversley "Sparkle" is the highlight of the set and its on the one song that wasn't written by any of the members on stage, but apart from that the set is faultless and while individuals could bemoan the lack of the material from the "The Program" the new material more than makes up for. It's clear that this is no nostalgia fest and they're set to prove that Marion ended prematurely rather than rely on past glories and even though we're unfamiliar with the new material such as "Hurricane" or "Crystal Blue" it's
clear that these songs will become as loved as "Sleep", "Time" and "Fallen Through".

Tonight Marion proved why they're one of the most important bands to come out of Manchester since the Smiths and Joy Division. If anything the break away has given us all perspective as to how good these songs are and unlike bands such as The Manics and Placebo, who were Marion's contemporaries at the time, there's not been that embarrassing stage where there creative output is a shadow of its former self.

Alex McCann

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