“Naked In The Chapel” by Steve Hogarth

Artist: Steve Hogarth
Title: “Naked In The Chapel”
Label: MVD Entertainment
Release Date: 5/19/2009
Genre: Progressive/Acoustic Rock
Rating: 4.5/5

Recorded during the tail end of the summer of 2007, Marillion’s front man Steve Hogarth did some solo touring and used the very simple title of “h”. These were acoustic shows that found the singer at a piano in very casual settings and for this particular video we are able to get a front row seat as he does this at the Union Chapel at Islington, London England. I love this kind of stuff when it’s done properly and in this case they exceeded my expectations. For starters the venue is a beautiful chapel from what we can see in the minimal lighting around the stage and Hogarth’s voice is in perfect register from beginning to end. The singer brings no other musicians with him as I have stated and just sits on his own with the company of his Mac book and headphones as he sings his heart out on stripped down to the bare bones Marillion tunes and cover songs along with a couple of numbers from bands he was a part of prior to joining Marillion. It’s an interesting show and one that will keep your attention from the moment it starts out and he begins the journey for our ears with “The Hollow Man” from “Brave”. Hogarth doesn’t focus his time by segmenting the covers to one part of the show and then the Marillion and instead mixes it all up quite nicely. The first cover he does is a wonderful version of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and I am sure that the Thin White Duke would tip his hat for the work on this version. Of course Bowie was in his Ziggy persona at the time that he originally did the song but that doesn’t matter for my approval.

Hogarth brings you to practical tears with his rendition of Marillion’s “Afraid Of Sunlight” from the album that bears the same name. Fans will agree that it’s a stunning track when you hear the full band doing their thing on it, and I will add how it feels completely different when done only on a grand piano. From here he scrolls back into his early tenure years to do “Collection” which while considered a b-side, I always happened to like. Other favorites of mine are “No One Can” from “Holidays In Eden” and it was pretty interesting to see how many songs he did from that recording since there are no less than four tunes across the span of the show. H rocks the house with a great rendition of Wings’ “Maybe I’m Amazed” and then delivers a poignant “In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley. It’s probably the most touching version I have ever heard since The King himself recorded it. The show comes to an end with “Cover My Eyes” (another from “Holidays In Eden”) and a long time favorite of mine since that was the “radio hit” for the band when the recording came out. The singer leaves the stage for a moment only to return to deliver “Fantastic Place” from the “Marbles” album. Very moving stuff to say the least.

Bonus Material: God Bless America, Air Rage, One Hot Ohio Night, The Prisoner Of Poznan

*** The bonus features are definitely something that most fans of the singer will enjoy as they are entries from his personal journals where he lines out his daily activities and adventures that have happened to him as he travelled around the world on tour or on vacations. I really got a kick out of these stories and felt that the singer should definitely think about releasing a memoir of these tales and others like them. One can almost live the experience through his story telling. I know I would purchase that or even attend a reading of some of the tales if he did. Given how he walks off the stage at the very end of the show, I am assuming that these stories were inter-laced during the show and not done all at once on their own. If I am correct in this assumption I am wondering why they didn’t just leave it alone and let the world enjoy the show exactly how it went.

In the end I had to say that I loved the release and enjoyed hearing not only the Marillion tracks in this fashion but to be exposed to some of his own earlier work and to hear how the covers came out. I mentioned loving this kind of thing when it is done right and what we find from watching this video is how well the Marillion tunes that he selected for the show work in different fashions. They are like musical clay and get molded into different, yet similar shapes and end up being something really interesting to the ears. I did have one complaint about this release and that was based on its lack of an audio CD companion. Having enjoyed the video so much I felt that it would be something I wanted on my music player, and with no CD along with the package that was not going to happen. My version of the release came in a “book format” case, meaning that it resembles a physical book but there is nothing else to it. There is no booklet insert or additional photos of the singer performing. You will have to watch the film to see all of those. I recommend this to all Marillion fans that are fans of the Hogarth years since this is all about him as a singer and a wide scope of his own personal musical and life adventures.

Track Listing:
1. The Hollow Man
2. Three Minute Boy
3. House
4. Life On Mars?
5. Beyond You
6. Afraid Of Sunlight
7. A Collection
8. Cage
9. The Party
10. When I Meet God
11. No One Can
12. Man Of The World
13. Maybe I’m Amazed
14. In The Ghetto
15. Famous Blue Raincoat
16. Cover My Eyes
17. Fantastic Place

Official Website: http://www.stevehogarth.com

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