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Purple Weekends - by Fraser Marshall

We wanted to catch up with the band after their recent jaunt with Deep Purple to find out how it went, plus quiz them about the upcoming Weekends, but their schedule was so tight, Lucy had to do the interview with them, and then we didn't have the space to fit it into the magazine!

How did you come to get offered that tour in the first place?
They came to us and asked if we would be interested - we of course said yes.

Marillion haven’t opened for anyone for a long time. Why choose to do it now? Where there any worries about doing it?
h - It was an honour to be asked to support Deep Purple - they were the band I grew up watching.

Rothers - Our fears were two fold - one that there would be no one in the hall when we went on stage and two that they wouldn't like it - neither of those fears were confirmed.  Really glad we did it.

Kayleigh was played at all but one of the shows. It started off second on the setlist but by the end was the penultimate number. Was it a case of thinking you wanted to give non-Marillion fans something they knew early on and then discovering it wasn’t necessary?
Pete - We just kept juggling the set list. Playing Kayleigh was an idea was to get people out of the bar - it wasn't necessary - we left it in as the set worked so well.  Interestingly enough, it probably wasn't the song that went down the best with Deep Purple audience.

Did you get a sense of how well you were going over with the Purple audience?
Mark - We were pleasantly surprised at most of the gigs - it was like playing to our normal audience.

Did you mind doing the shorter set? Do you get to the end of it and be buzzing to do more? Did it take the pressure off, did it mean you had time to sightsee more than you might usually?
Mark - It made a pleasant change - it was a bit strange not playing for longer -all We liked it so much we are going to do it on our main tours - keep them wanting more!

Pete - The short sets weren't weird. What is, was the early starts; that felt strange.

Generally speaking, Marillion’s output of late, even disregarding L=M, has been less overtly ‘rocky’. Has going out on tour with ‘da Purps’  made you want to pull on the spandex leotard, stamp on a distortion pedal and do \m/ devil fingers \m/ at the crowd? You did play quite a rocky set for the tour?
Of course - If you promise not to laugh. :)

For h: You’ve mentioned before that Purple at Sheffield Hall were the first band you saw live and which influenced your decision to become a professional musician. Were you very conscious of that when you stepped out on their stage for the first time?
h – Yes, it was a great feeling.

How much socialising was there with the Purple guys?
Quite a bit - Don Airey and Roger Glover were particularly sociable – They got to know us gradually over the tour and it got more and more sociable.

h - Steve Morse left the stage during Smoke On The Water to give me a hug on the last gig on the tour!

For Pete: Mike Portnoy has just announced a new supergroup including your Transatlantic bandmate Neal Morse and Steve Morse from Deep Purple. Were you asked to be in it? Would you like to be?
Pete - I am aware of it. I wasn't asked for various reasons probably because I have just done a Transatlantic album.

We know that “what goes on the road stays on the road”, but have you got any good stories from the tour you can share?
Ian – No, nothing exciting! We spent the whole tour walking round Christmas markets - or in the DP catering as it was fantastic.

For each of you, how well did you get on with your equivalent band member? Did you chat about technique, set up etc?
Ian - Got on very well with Ian he is a nice chap and I had admired his playing for a long time.

Pete - Got on well with Roger - really nice chap - great musicality throughout his whole career.  I respect his playing.

h - Ian Gillan was extremely low profile and I don't think even the rest of DP saw much of him - he arrived just before they went on stage and left immediately after.  He did say “hello” once during Smoke On The water.  We didn't swap knitting patterns or anything!

Rothers - Chatted to Steve Morse - seems like a nice guy - talked about many things - American politics, flying.

Mark - Don is a lovely man - as the only member of DP that actually soundchecked we had a chat most days during that time. He even invited us out to dinner.

Having done the tour with Deep Purple, would you be up for opening for someone else if the opportunity presented itself? Who do you think would be a good bill-mate for Marillion?
h - Yes we would - but it would have to be the right band - do you have any suggestions?

Marillion Weekends

How much practice are you putting in ahead of the gigs?
Rothers - Just the three months!

Can you tell us anything about the setlists for the Saturday and Sunday gigs? Have you got any surprises in store?
If we told you then they wouldn't be a surprise!

How many major rows have you had over the choice of setlists? Has anyone left the band over ‘em..? Fisticuffs?
Mike Hunter – No, not yet - not worth arguing about!  We argue over more important things like who gets to park closest to the door at the Racket Club.

If four of you want to do a song and the fifth hates it, would it go in the set?
Steve Rothery - usually we have to do a couple of songs I bloody hate!

h - Generally speaking we go on a democratic vote unless someone really, really has a major problem.

You’ve done all sorts of twists on the setlists over the last decade of Weekends. Is it getting harder and harder to come up with a new idea? Can you tell us any that you’ve rejected?
No it's not harder - we usually choose the songs we want to play and work an idea round it!  We can't tell you any we have rejected as we might use them next time.

Would you consider any of the following:
a. Songs that name real people?

Do we have that many?

b. Songs that have place names in?
Shortish set!

c. One word song titles?
Not many of them.

d. John Helmer Night?
Interesting thought.

e. First Track On The Album Night?
An idea we have considered before.

What are the best things and the worst things about the Weekends?
Worst things are the preparation and rehearsal times.

Best things - best audience in the world.

We love the atmosphere walking around on way to soundcheck - cycling to the stage and seeing everyone just having a fantastic time.

A recent email mentions “special lighting effects this year that will be ruined by flash photography”. Are you able to give us any more information about the show design?
No - again we don't want to spoil the surprise but if possible we've gone even bigger and better than last year!

It also asks those of us with video cameras to bring them along on the Sunday afternoon. Can you say more..?
As the email said - we can't tell you as we don't want someone nicking the idea before we get a chance to do it - suffice to say we just think it will be a bit of fun if it works.

The Weekend Lurgy is a well-established condition, typically knocking down a victim  within a few days of the Weekend. Do you ever suffer from it? More generally, how long does it take you to unwind from the Weekends?
Rothers - We normally come back pretty exhausted - it does take a few days to unwind.

Which band member has it the easiest over a Weekend? Which has it hardest?
Rothers - We are all equal - probably more than at every other time.

Do you like an audience that waves inflatable guitars etc?
Pete - It's not something I look forward to but it's nice to see people having a good time.

Any cover versions this time?
Why do you insist on wanting to spoil all the surprises!  Wait and see...

h, a recent discussion on the dreaded MOLF saw some people say that they weren’t keen on you letting the audience sing a song, such as Script during the 2003 weekend. How do you feel about that?
h - I am probably being selfish when I sit back and hear the audience sing – I can think back to a time when that song didn't exist - for time to past and then hear thousands of people singing back at you is a wonderful feeling. And I have sung the rest of the show!

Ian - You can't sing and drink at the same time!

The Cakey Boys are going to set the infamous Weekend quiz this year. Do you dread going up against the winners on the mainstage?
h - I love it!

Pete - I dread it, as I never know the answers!

Rothers - It's a lot of fun!

In which of the following are we most likely to find you during any downtime:
a. Bed
b. Bar
c. Pool
d. Restaurant
e. I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you
Pete – bed; Ian – bed; Rothers – bar; h - French fans’ chalet; Mark - sleeping in the bar

Ian, your son is going to be playing with his band The Royal Cartel. They’re quite heavy, aren’t they? How do you think they’re going to go down with a Marillion audience, and do you expect it to be nerve racking when his band go out on that stage?
Ian - They are not as heavy as you think they are going to be.  They remind me of Pearl Jam.  I am going to be very nervous for them but I am sure our fans will show them a good time.

Pete, you and Robin Boult are going to be doing a set. Any thoughts about what you’re going to be doing?
We haven't decided - we are still addressing that. h, Dave Gregory is going to be performing with his new band, Tin Spirits. Does this mean that you and he might get a chance to do something together?
h - I would love to go and sing a song with Dave.

Anything else Marillion-related you think we really ought to know ahead of the Weekends?
Probably not!

First posted on the Web UK website in 2011.

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