Steve Hogarth's first Marillion Gig

The Crooked Billet



Marillion in 1989

Steve Hogarth "We were a little bit worried we'd sound like a pub band.  But we sounded like a stadium band in a pub"


In June 1989, Marillion played a small gig in an Oxfordshire pub.  It was not only one of the smallest gigs the band have ever played, but also the first performance with Steve Hogarth as frontman.  The last time Steve was on stage was nearly two years before, at a festival show in Germany with his previous band How We Live.  That was to 102,000 people compared to the 150 or so people crammed into the Crooked Billet pub!  To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this legendary Marillion show, here's a page with everything you've ever wanted to know about the gig.


The Low Fat Yogurts 


Steve Hogarth officially joined Marillion in February 1989, and the band quickly set about writing songs for the album that was to become 'Seasons End'.  In March, the band booked a couple of weeks at a residential rehearsal studio near Brighton to arrange and demo tracks, some of which incorporated unreleased ideas from Europeans (The Space) & How We Live (Easter).  A handful of these appear on the bonus disc remaster of 'Seasons End' as the 'Mushroom Farm Demos.'  In April, the band started recording the album at Hook End, a manor house in the Oxfordshire countryside, once owned by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.


During a break from recording sessions for the album, keyboard player Mark Kelly had a few too many drinks in local pub The Crooked Billet, and was talked into doing a gig there.  He returned to the studio with the news that he'd agreed that the band would play a small show in the local boozer.  An elaborated version suggests that the band were talked into it by a charming and attractive Australian barmaid, and good sense didn't prevail!  The band soon warmed to the idea, seeing it as an ideal opportunity to "try some new material, and give Steve a nice low profile gig to start with."  The band decided to perform under a pseudonym, so Low Fat Yogurts was chosen, a name coined by producer Nick Davis over breakfast one day.

The Low Fat Yogurts


The Crooked Billet, Stoke Row

The Crooked Billet pub is in a small village in the south of England called Stoke Row, near to Henley on Thames & Reading.  Built in 1642, the pub once provided a hideout for highwayman Dick Turpin, who then dated the landlady's daughter, Bess.  Described as "one of England's finest and most traditional country inns" the place is now a successful gastropub run by former musician and self taught chef Paul Clerehugh.  It has appeared in a number of films, including Patriot Games and Landgirls, as well as numerous television programmes and commercials.  It also hosted Titanic star Kate Winslet's (first) wedding reception in 1998.


Late Night Rehearsals 


Steve remembers "We were in the middle of making a record so we didn't have time to rehearse, or a place to rehearse.  We ended up rehearsing from midnight 'til three in the morning, in the studio after we'd finished recording.  The first night sounded dreadful!  We ended up all shouting at each other!"  He was especially nervous and admits that he " didn't sleep for about two nights, just worrying about what was going to happen.  I really had no idea what to expect."  Bass player Pete Trewavas agreed: "We'd set up some equipment in the studio and it was sounding disastrous.  Awful.  We were all getting very uptight and almost had doubts about it."  However, by the second night of rehearsals, it "sounded alright."


At lunchtime on the day of the gig, the band set up the gear and soundchecked (see pic below).  Steve's nerves were still riding high: "I was dismayed to find there was no stage, that the equipment took up half the room, and there was absolutely nothing between me and the fans.  If someone was to take a dislike to me, there would be nothing to stop them just reaching out!  Given my size, it was going to be more nose-to-nipple than nose-to-nose!"

Sound Check, lunchtime 8 June 1989


Steve: "I freaked on the spot, because suddenly it had gone whoosh!  We were getting out of the bubble, and it was truly terrifying.  I remember thinking: 'Why haven't I thought about this before?  It was the acid test - being in front of a lot of people.  I knew how passionate Marillion fans were, and I didn't know what they'd think of me.  It's a lot to ask of anyone.  Fish must have been a lot of the reason these people were so nuts about the band.  The worse situation I could imagine was being in a room with them with no stage, no security, and them being able to reach and strangle me!  That was the point I thought; 'What have I got myself into?'  I mentioned it to the band and they just said 'Oh, don't worry about them, you'll be fine.'  I didn't even let my wife go to that show - and she still gives me gyp about it."


Packed In 

By late afternoon, people started to arrive at the pub, and it quickly became apparent that there would be a larger audience than the pub could take.  Seasons End producer Nick Davis recalls that "Coach loads of people turned up - it was amazing!"  Pete Trewavas claims that "It was supposed to be secret but it got out.  There were people outside on the road, and others trying to get in through the window.  But they loved it."  

Marillion fanzine writer Shaun Ryan was in the audience and described the upbeat feel at the Crooked Billet that night:  "All I could see was heads, with the odd glimpse of a band member now and then, but the sound and general atmosphere was amazing.  Outside it was raining, not the weather to be standing about in (although a good 100 plus people were), but inside it was boiling.  People were climbing onto any vantage point, anywhere, be it a table, chair or shoulders in order to get a glimpse of the band."

Band's Eye View

Steve Hogarth remembers: "The pub was absolutely packed solid, and there was this hard packed layer of people around the pub as well.  We managed to get into the pub, and onto the stage and the front row were here [puts hand up to his face].  And they were all taller than me, 'cos I'm only 5 foot 7 and a bit and they were all 5 foot 11 and a bit! So I fronted it out and it was a great success."


The Crooked Billet, 8th June 1989 


Setlist: Slainte Mhath / King of Sunset Town / Warm Wet Circles / That Time of the Night / Uninvited Guest / Easter / Kayleigh / Lavender / Hooks in You / After Me

The band played for about 40 minutes, performing five new songs and five from their back catalogue.  The new tracks included the soon-to-be-album-opener King of Sunset Town, the 3 singles (Hooks in You, Uninvited Guest & Easter) plus Hooks b-side After MeSteve Hogarth dedicated Kayleigh to "anybody who has travelled a long way to be here tonight." 

!NEW 2011! Martin Bridge had a prime spot at the show (middle front row) and sent me these amazing photos of the night:

Pete Trewavas at the Crooked Billet Pete, Steve & Ianh, Ian & Steve

A soulful Steve Hogarth! Martin Bridge (centre of the picture) proving he was there!

A short clip of video from the gig (filmed through a window by Steve Rotherys wife Jo) appears on the Marillion DVD 'From Stoke Row to Ipanema.' The clip shows the band's tiny stage area, whilst a panning shot shows how packed the place was.  It's unclear at what part of the show the clip is from, but Steve Hogarth announces from stage "This is only a little place isn't it.  This is my first ever gig with Marillion.  And I'm going to make a speech..."  

Steve at the Crooked Billet Rothery, Hogarth, KellyI listen to the Crowd!


Tour Manager Paul Lewis remembers how "After the show the band was unable to get through the crowd to leave the stage, so they climbed out of the very small window at the back of the room, behind the drum kit)." According to Mark Kelly, the window was "three feet high on the inside and about six feet high on the outside!"  Added to that, there was a pond about six feet away from the window!  Steve says that the band "couldn't do an encore 'cos we couldn't get back in again through this window!" The band retired to the small kitchen-cum-dressing room at the side of the pub to wind (and cool) down from the gig.

Through the square window



Shaun Ryan wrote in "The Web" fanzine that "Spirits were high in the makeshift backstage area.  Everyone was genuinely over the moon at the way things had gone, it had been a great success.  I spoke to every member of the band and they were all pleased with the night's events.  You'll be pleased to know that they're looking forward to the tour as much as anyone else."  Steve Hogarth's initial reaction was "an immense feeling of relief!  I aged about a year that night."  

Martin Bridge recalls: After the gig I went back to the party at the studio nearby and I even gave Steve Hogarth and some of the kit a ride back there.  On the way he was asking all of us what we thought of the gig, and seemed anxious to confirm that he was a good front man for the band.


Steve Rothery


Steve Rothery adds "It was a great place to play and an amazing vote of confidence to have that sort of buzz happening at that time.  I think that took away a little of that initial pressure and worry about "how will it go" and could we play together as a band and would it work?  It was great, a really good, strong gig.  It was obvious from that one very tiny gig that the audience would take to Steve.  That they would accept him, and that it wasn't going to be a problem.  Even when you can translate that from a pub with 100 people in, to playing to 70,000 people down in Brazil.  It gives you the confidence to go on that stage without worrying whether or not people are going to start throwing eggs at him or anything!"


Agrees Pete Trewavas, "The Crooked Billet was amazing.  It turned out to be quite a legendary experience, and a nice way of Introducing Steve Hogarth to the mad Marillion fans.  It was only a short show but it went down a storm."  In April 2003, Marillion celebrated their 21st anniversary.  In a journal entry on,  Pete Trewavas reminisced about events in the band's history:  "Who can forget the Crooked Billet show... one of those rare moments that falls between the two categories of daft, and huge amounts of fun."

Pete Trewavas


Were you at this show in June 1989?  If you want to share your experiences, recollections and memories on this page then please get in touch via my email:



From Stoke Row to Ipanema DVD

Marillion - From Stoke Row to Ipanema DVD available at 

Power Hour (UK TV Programme) August 1989

Metal Hammer Magazine: "Summer Season" by Mark Day, 18th Septmber 1989

Marillion / Separated Out - The complete history 1979-2002 by Jon Collins p99

Sounds Magazine: "End of the Fishing Season" by Paul Elliott, October 14 1989

Classic Rock No 68: "Men for All Seasons" by Jerry Ewing, July 2004

The Web (Marillion fanzine)  by Shaun Ryan, Summer '89

Crooked Billet Website can be found at



Tim Glasswell June 2009


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