A few weeks ago Mark returned from his family Holiday with some fairly serious news concerning his hearing. I’ll let him explain ..
MK: “Some of you may be already aware that a few weeks ago I had suffered from a condition called SSHL or Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. I’ve written a blog about my experience here markke11y.blogspot.com if you want to know more. Although some of my hearing has returned, I’m very sensitive to loud noise and I have tinnitus. I’m hoping this will improve over time but I don’t feel ready to commit to the rehearsals and gigs in April and May this year. I really enjoyed working on “King of Number 33” and have no intention of quitting the band. I’m looking forward to starting work with Andy (Ditchfield) on the follow up at some point and sincerely hope that I will be able to join the band onstage at some future date. I will have a better idea of when that might be after a few more months have passed and hopefully my sensitivity to loud noise and tinnitus has reduced further. Also, how it goes with Marillion in the USA will give me a better idea of what’s possible.”
AD: Clearly, this is disappointing news for us and also fans looking forward to seeing him perform but more importantly, it’s potentially life-changing for him and throws up challenges which to be honest are incomprehensible to me as a musician. Marillion is his career and number one priority (as well as being a passion of a great many fans, myself included) so it goes without saying he needs to be fully immersed in making that work.
On behalf of the Band, I’d like to wish him well for a full and speedy recovery and really can’t wait to getting back into the Studio with him again. As he says, hopefully we’ll also see him join us on stage at some point in the future.
In light of this news, I was left with two choices, either cancel the shows or look for a competent Keys Player able to fill Mark’s Shoes (there was no way I was having C-3po again!). Fortunately, such a man exists and despite living even further away than Mr Kelly, he’s agreed to join ranks and play with us, at least for these four shows. Having played with Credo, Landmarq, Shadowland and rather ironically Mick Pointer’s Script for a Jesters Tour, he’s certainly no stranger to the odd, odd time signature.
On Keyboards and evening up the hair vs baldies stakes, please welcome Mike Varty.
MV: It’s an honour to be asked to fill such prestigious shoes! I certainly love a challenge, and when I heard the music I just couldn’t resist. And, it’s also great to be able to help a bunch of fellow musicians – I’m looking forward to it all.
I’d also just like to add a quick thanks to Ralph Rea and Mark Colton from Credo for putting us in touch. What a nice bunch of people we have around.