Marion – Live at the Manchester Roundhouse – October 7, 1994 – Jim Moody Collection –
Marion in concert from Manchester to keep things rolling. Recorded at the Manchester Roundhouse on October 7, 1994. Almost, but not quite like last night’s The High concert, Marion came on the scene with lots of promise, but it was wretched excess that caused the demise, not lack of trying or being overlooked – chalk it up to Heroin.
Marion were formed in Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1993 by Ryles Park High School students Jaime Harding and Anthony Grantham, and Sutton resident Phil Cunningham who had previously been in various bands together including Cloud, Chief, Push The King and The Shags. After recruiting bassist Damian Lawrence and drummer Murad Mousa, they recorded a demo that was sent to former Smiths manager Joe Moss who agreed to manage the band. Moss, who at the time promoted shows at The Night and Day Café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, allowed the band to rehearse in the cafe’s basement. The band replaced bassist Damian Lawrence with Julian Phillips and rehearsed six days a week for nine months, commuting each day from Macclesfield, before playing in London to try and gain record company attention.
After releasing debut single ‘Violent Men’ on Rough Trade Records, a bidding war began between the major record labels, with Marion eventually signing to London Records and a publishing deal with Island Music Publishing in October 1994. In March 1995, bassist Julian Phillips left the band to join Electrafixion & work with Ian McCulloch so was replaced by Nick Gilbert formerly of the Hot Bananas who featured on all other Marion recordings.
The band released debut This World & Body in February 1996, which entered the UK Top 10 Album Chart. Constant gigging saw the band supporting the likes of Morrissey, Radiohead, Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen and Manic Street Preachers. The band played at Glastonbury Festival 3 times and other festivals across the UK and Europe, also undertaking 2 tours of Japan and 4 short tours of America. The band also appeared on TV on the likes of the BBC special ‘Britpop Now’ BBC television special, The Beat and The Word.
After a gruelling 18 month international touring campaign for the album, the band found it difficult to write a second album. Moss brought in Johnny Marr to co-write and produce second album The Program. The album was released in September 1998, however Harding’s heroin habit saw him become increasingly unreliable which led to a lack of promotion. Harding later admitted that “I’d always used speed and cocaine but the heroin really took hold round the making of The Program”.
The band split up the following year following a mammoth tour of the US, which saw Harding increasingly withdrawn from the rest of the band. Cunningham stated that the band split up due to frustration and bitterness creeping in as no one was able to get through to Harding.
For a reminder of better days, or not nearly as complicated ones, here is an early concert by Marion, recorded in Manchester on October 7, 1994.
Special thanks to Jim Moody for carrying the torch and keeping the concerts alive.
Crank this one up.