There's a helluva lot packed into 3 days, so I'll write about highlights & such rather than try and put it into a coherent chronological order :) I'll link in some photos, but the whole set (of ~50) can be found here. I didn't take my DSLR, because (as J pointed out) I'd probably have spent more time trying to work out the settings to get decent pictures with it (and worrying about it getting bashed) than enjoying the concerts. So these were all taken with the Lumix, and the gig ones are handheld above my head in a bouncy crowd. Frankly I'm astonished anything came out at all ;)
Obviously the best place to start is the concerts! Friday night opened with The Royal Cartel as the support band - the guitarist (on the right in this picture) is Michael Mosley, the son of the drummer in Marillion. I liked their set a lot, although I didn't pick up the album, they did fairly classic rock. And the bass player was cool - she had attitude :)
The Friday night Marillion set was primarily the whole of the Holidays in Eden album. The singer, h, arrived for the first song lowered down from the ceiling! A good set, it's one of my favourites of their albums anyway :) Encores were How Can It Hurt (actually part of the main set, but not part of the album), A Collection, Man of a 1000 Faces & Invisible Man - quite a short set for them, but the other two (particularly Saturday) were a lot longer.
Saturday night there were 2 supports - first up were Pete & Rob's Musical Whimsy, which is basically Pete Trewavas (bass player in Marillion) and his friend Robin Boult playing guitar together. Some stuff rehearsed, some stuff made up on the spot. The sort of thing I quite like to listen to live, but utterly passes me by on record.
Next up were Sundomingo, who I believe were support at the Montreal Marillion Weekend in 2009. I wasn't keen, to be honest - too polished and bland for my tastes. They seemed to go down well with the crowd tho :) They also had h up on stage for a song, as he'd done some singing on their album.
I didn't take any pictures of the Marillion set on Saturday. The theme for their set was A-Z and we'd spent most of the day trying to figure out what they might play - we were almost entirely wrong for everything! What it seemed they'd done was to pick the rarest and most unexpected songs for most (although not all) letters - if you read the official forums (don't) you'll find it full of people whining about the set and how it wasn't their favourite songs, but I liked it. Nice to hear different songs to the "standards", that's kinda what the conventions are about - not just playing the songs that "everyone knows" but giving us bits & pieces that aren't heard often. They cheated for a couple - I was intermission, X was an XTC song (Senses Working Overtime ... I think J felt like the only person in the room who didn't know the song, unusual for him for a performance by Marillion ;) ), Z was Zeparated Out - a version of Separated Out with bits of Led Zepplin. I think my favourite bit of the gig (out of the whole 3 hours) was from P to T - if I had to pick a favourite song from the whole weekend it'd be Sugar Mice in this gig, the crowd response was amazing (and it just edges out Three Minute Boy, which also had a fantastic response, because I've heard Sugar Mice live less often).
Tin Spirits were the support on Sunday, we unfortunately missed a chunk of their set because the service in the restaurant we went to for dinner was so appallingly slow. What we heard was good tho :) The guitarist (on the right here) was in XTC, and had joined Marillion on stage on Saturday for X.
Sunday night's Marillion set had the theme "The Glow Must Go On", and we had no idea what it was going to be at all. It turned out that we were all given glow sticks ("snap, and shake" as Lucy Jordache's helpful tutorial pointed out) and at various points in the set we had to wave them to vote between two possible songs. Well, that was the theory. In practice sometimes they hadn't rehearsed one (as they thought they knew what the vote would be for) and once we got both songs by dint of shouting for that loud enough (the choice was Easter or The Great Escape - how can you choose??). This set had more of the "standards", and more of the emotional ones (heightened by the level of inebriation we'd managed to reach). Actually, I think it was my least favourite of the three gigs (whilst still being a fantastic gig, don't get me wrong). Partly because some of the crowd pleasers aren't my favourites (both This Strange Engine and Ocean Cloud leave me fairly cold, so if that's the choice I'm not fussed either way - everyone else seems to love them tho).
That's my favourite picture I took during the gigs - from Sunday night, though I can't remember which song.
All three concerts were fantastic - and I ended up with sore hands (from clapping), sore throat (from "singing") and sore feet (from standing). Well worth it tho! :D
So that was the music. There was also much, much, much, MUCH beer. One of the phrases for the weekend was "Beer is the answer!". Astonishingly I didn't once have a hangover (bar possibly a moment during the Sunday night gig where I ducked out to the loos for a mouthful or two of tap water - appropriately during Memory of Water). We mostly drank Jupiler, which was the standard beer on tap, but we also had some beers in the chalet - including some scary-ish high strength ones. We didn't drink much in the chalet though - after the gigs on Friday and Saturday we went to the bar in "The Adventure Factory" for beer and general chatter (we chilled out in the rock place, that's how we roll ;) ). And during the afternoons we were generally out and about. Saturday afternoon there was a lass singing in The Adventure Factory (Jo McCafferty), but the venue somehow wasn't really conducive to sitting and listening (and the sitting bit was already rammed by the time we got there) so we played air hockey and hung out instead.
The guys also went to the Marillion Museum that afternoon (I didn't, dunno why but I've never been that interested in the memorabilia they have there, but the guys liked seeing it). And Sunday afternoon was the final of the quiz (the Parrotheads team vs the band), the Q&A (fairly brisk) and Swap the Band (where a fan replaces a band member for a song). The latter is a mini-gig really, and the fans are always really good (they have to send in tapes and get chosen in advance). And we even got a song we didn't get in one of the other sets (the overlap is to cut down on needed rehearsal I'd guess) - Kayleigh, with someone replacing Rothery.
The company was good - this time it was me & J, Paul (who very kindly drove us all the way there & back) and Ady. Ellen couldn't make it this year, but I think she'll be back with us the next time ;) Even the seagulls missed her! At least, I think that's what they were shouting down the chimney at us. We also met up with J's friend Tim from work a few times over the weekend, and J & Paul were found by someone who is friends with them both on last.fm on the Sunday night.
We played a lot of cards (the game was "5 cards" and we were using the Ruffside rules ;) ), talked a lot of rubbish and had a lot of fun. I suspect all four of us will remember Nelson the seagull and his minion the swan for a while. The other phrase of the weekend was "We are 12", including somewhat off colour jokes about other people's soft-toys, and immature giggling at things that look very rude if you can't understand dutch. There was also much silliness with glow sticks - the picture with J is the best, I think:
All in all a fantastic weekend. Very hard to give the proper flavour of the weekend - if what I've written about sounds fun, then just remember it was better than that :D