Saturday - 20:30
Steve Hogarth, also known simply as ‘h’, is best known as the frontman of Marillion, the Progressive Rock legends that he joined in 1989, having previously formed part of The Europeans and How We Live. Marillion have been described by Classic Rock magazine as “An enduring and undervalued treasure”, while just two years ago readers of the hugely successful Prog magazine voted the UK five-piece ‘Band of the Year’.
When original singer Fish left Marillion after just four albums, few could have predicted that ‘new boy’ Steve Hogarth would - over twenty-five years later - be recording his fourteenth album with the band, still enjoying an impressive and faithful global fanbase. Along the way, he has helped reinvigorate and constantly redefine Marillion’s sound, adding his lyrics, charisma and impassioned vocals to groundbreaking albums like “Marbles”, “Seasons End” or the conceptual “Brave”. Sound on Sound magazine once described Marillion as “The best-kept secret in the music industry”, but for hundreds of thousands of fans around the world who continue to enjoy their inventive, emotional music, there is no band quite like them and no frontman quite like Mr h.
It was in 2006 that Steve Hogarth first embarked on his ‘h Natural’ solo project. Accompanied only by piano, the format allowed songs like “Easter”, “No One Can” or “You’re Gone” to take on a new dimension, the sparse-sound allowing the lyrics and h’s warm, exquisite voice to come to the fore. New nuances are gifted to the audience, while the main thrust of the song - uncluttered by distractions - is allowed to breathe. Gone is the Rock star persona of a frontman headlining a festival or performing at a South American arena. ‘h Natural’ concerts are, by their very nature, organic, intimate, almost fragile creatures.
This ‘piano and vocals’ approach will still form a part of the Gibraltar concert, but there is more… Having already performed a ‘h Natural’ show at Saint Michael’s Cave almost a decade ago, and a small Literary Festival appearance at King’s Chapel last year, it was felt the time was right for something special, something different and unique. Over to Steve: “This will be my fourth time performing in my beloved Gibraltar. Last year’s Literary Festival gig in the King’s Chapel was truly special for me and I came home with that rare feeling that I had ‘nailed it’. Must be something in the water… I immediately began hustling to return, so the chance to play once again in the unique space that is St Michael’s Cave is, well, icing on the cake. Unlike my usual strictly-solo shows, this time my son, Nial, will join me on stage to play cajon, and I’m also thrilled to have the fabulous Dave Gregory on hand to play guitar. Can’t wait.”
This is the first time that Steve will perform Marillion and other songs in this particular set-up, backed by piano, percussion and the masterful guitar of Dave Gregory. These musical arrangements, rehearsed exclusively for this concert, have never been heard before. In other words, this is a ‘h Natural’ show with a difference. For one show only and exclusively in Gibraltar, this is ‘h (Super)Natural’. It’s going to be special. It’s going to be unique. It’s going to be unforgettable.
WHAT CAN THE AUDIENCE EXPECT?
The setlist will span Steve’s entire career, including his 25 years with Marillion. What he will choose to play on the night will remain a surprise, but previous ‘h Natural’ shows have featured Hogarth-era Marillion classics like “Easter”, “You’re Gone”, “Afraid Of Sunlight”, “No One Can”, “Beautiful” or “Season’s End”, among many others. The audience can also expect a number of covers of songs that have a special place in Steve’s heart and memory. In the past, these have included David Bowie’s “Life On Mars”, “Cloudbusting” (Kate Bush), Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” or “Imagine” from John Lennon. There might well also be interpretations of songs by the likes of Elton John, Leonard Cohen or The Beatles. We’ll just have to wait and see…
THE GUITARIST’S GUITARIST…
Joining Steve Hogarth during parts of the concert will be guitarist Dave Gregory. A member of the band XTC for 19 years, performing on the hits “Senses Working Overtime”, “Making Plans For Nigel” and twelve studio albums, as well as recording with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Take That’s Mark Owen, Dave is well known to Marillion fans through his work on Steve Hogarth’s solo album “Ice Cream Genius” and as a member of Steve’s star-studded h Band, alongside Blondie drummer Clem Burke, bassist Chucho Merchan and ex-Japan and Porcupine Tree synth maestro Richard Barbieri. Currently a member of the band Tin Spirits, Dave Gregory is an exceptional musician - so much so that he’s been referred to as the guitarist’s guitarist.
THE PERCUSSIONIST SON…
Nial Hoggarth is an accomplished drummer who, despite his young age, is versed in a variety of styles - from Punk to Funk, Grunge to Indie, Rock and Folk. “Watching Marillion’s Ian Mosley play was a true inspiration - you could say he’s the reason why I started,” he explains. “I got my first drum kit when I was eleven years old and I’ve never stopped playing. My dad actually taught me the basics, although he’d tell you he had nothing to do with it. I picked up the Cajon when I became friends with a group of acoustic guitar-loving people and I’ve had quite a bit of practice, so I’m hoping my skills serve me well in May.” This will be the first time father and son perform together.
SOMETHING FELL INTO THE CAGE CAVE TODAY.
Gibraltarians and the millions of tourists who visit the Upper Rock Nature Reserve will already know what a special place Saint Michael’s Cave is. At a height of over 300 metres above sea level, although referred to as a ‘cave’ in the singular, this is in fact a network of limestone caves that was once home to Neolithic inhabitants of the Rock. Stunning and atmospheric, they’d be worth a visit even if Mr h wasn’t performing there!
The largest of St Michael’s chambers, named the Cathedral Cave, has been converted into a strikingly beautiful auditorium, making the most of its natural acoustic properties. Operas, philharmonic orchestras and a Rock act or two have graced its stage. What not everyone may know is that many years ago, Steve Hogarth was a member of the judging panel in the Miss Gibraltar beauty pageant, held at the Cave. Perhaps choosing to pay more attention to the natural surroundings, it was then that he fell in love with what will be the venue for his special concert. Let’s face it, a Steve Hogarth gig is always enjoyable, whether it’s in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, a beautiful church or at London’s 100 Club on Oxford Street, home of the Sex Pistols. But in a cave like St Michael’s, surrounded by the beauty of nature and blessed with acoustics no man-made venue could replicate… well, that’s something else.