Marion returned to the capital last night (April 12), playing their first London show in six years at a full-to-capacity O2 Academy Islington.
The fivesome played a string of tracks from their debut album ‘This World And Body’, as well as a brace of early B-sides, and one track, ‘Sparkle’, from their ill-fated second album, ‘The Program’. They also aired five new songs taken from their current ‘Alive In Manchester’ live album, of which ‘Oh Lord’ solicited the best response.
Singer Jaime Harding took to the stage wearing a Johnny Cash-style black suit, and swigged from a bottle of vodka throughout, occasionally sharing it with members of the audience. At one point he told the crowd jokingly, “You look like wrecks! But then so do we” – a reference to the fact he’s not quite the skinny androgyne he was back in the ’90s. The crowd’s most enthusiastic reaction was for ‘Let’s All Go Together’ and closing track ‘Sleep’, both originally released as singles in 1995.
Marion formed in Macclesfield in 1993 and enjoyed the patronage of Morrissey early in their career. They played the NME Awards Tour (then called the Brats Tour), and were tipped for big things, until their second album tanked in 1998. The band split up the following year, after which Harding’s drug habit – already a problem before the break-up – spiralled out of control. He hit rock bottom in 2000 when he was arrested for stealing garden ornaments to feed his habit.
Marion staged a comeback in 2006, playing a string of sold-out gigs, but it was cut short when Harding contracted blood poisoning – the result of injecting heroin and crack – and was rushed to hospital. It took until 2011 for him to be well enough to perform live again. You can read more about Harding’s years in the wilderness in this interview.
The current Marion line-up boasts four original members – Harding, guitarists Anthony Grantham and Phil Cunningham (also these days a guitarist with New Order), bassist Julian Phillips – and a relative newcomer in the form of drummer Jack Mitchell. Having returned to the live scene they now plan to record a new studio album, their first in fourteen years.
‘I Stopped Dancing’
‘I Won’t Pretend’
‘Let’s All Go Together’
‘The Biggest Painkiller Of All’
‘The Only Way’
‘The Late Gate Show’
You can watch footage below of Marion in their mid-90s prime, performing ‘Sleep’ on The Word. And below that, watch the music video to ‘Let’s All Go Together’.