One Track Mind: Marillion, “Gaza” from A Sunday Night Above The Rain (2014)

Marillion’s “Gaza,” a dark and timely song, receives perhaps its most substantive reading yet on the forthcoming Sunday Night Above the Rain. Due July 22, 2014 from earMusic and Eagle Rock, this two-disc live set principally focuses on the group’s 2012 studio effort Sounds That Can’t Be Made, for which “Gaza” served as a centerpiece.

Same here. The reasons are two fold, in the sense that “Gaza” stands as a sweeping testament to the lingering power of the prog-rock epic but also that it remains — and this is what gives the track its resonance — firmly rooted in today’s world.

And Steve Hogarth’s commitment to this 17-minute examination of the dangers of nationalism, the often-shocking aftermath, and the small things we grab for in order to make sense of the emotional dissonance surrounding war, is simply unmatched in this live setting.

Of course, “Gaza” traces its form back to the earliest days of prog. But there is a smart modernity to its construction. It pulls no punches, musically — or lyrically — moving from stomping portent (while Hogarth describes a desolate setting filled with danger and unrest), into a series of dream-like sequences set to a crunchy, mechanized cadence. Back and forth it swings, drawing you into this sense of restive, idyllic reverie — and of a desperate desire for peace, no matter which bunker they call home — only to have the landscape torn asunder by these completely unexplainable moments of violence.

It’s not unlike, you have to imagine, living in the strife-torn part of the world this track is named after.

When Hogarth sings, with growing emotional turbulence, “it just ain’t right — it’s just ain’t right,” Marillion moves further out still from the simple side-taking, and the even simpler bromides, that surround these seemingly never-ending conflicts. The costs, the very real costs, are writ large in the billowing sounds that come to surround that lyric. “Gaza” ends with the kind of crashing realizations, and the deep introspection, typically reserved for great books.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.