I never, in a million years, thought I would persuade my wife to come with me to see Fish. Not least because she had no idea who he is. Indeed the run up to this gig included questions about why he was called Fish, what his real name was (when answered all I got in return was "seriously though, what is his real name?") and major doubts about the existence of prog rock itself (didn't mention neo-progressive rock...that would have been too much for her to take). To be fair she is but a young woman of 35 and considers herself to be a lot more fashionable than the majority of artists I take her to see. In truth I felt pretty young myself as a 42 year old man in amongst the ageing 95% male audience with a ratio of 50% hair / no hair (as pointed out by Fish himself). This definitely wasn't a One Direction crowd.
Shining bald palettes aside the first thing to notice was the already long queue as the doors opened at 7pm. Fish wandered in past us all which was quite strange (no stage door here it seems) but even stranger was seeing the venue already packed by the time Lazuli, an excellent support band, took the stage. They may look like the cast from Game of Thrones but the French band, introduced by Fish, were a very good warm up here.
It is an understatement to say the venue was full. There were people at the bars (bars not actually in the main hall) craning their necks to see. They may as well have been in the Nandos across the road watching as it seemed the gig was a little oversold. In fairness the extra space used may have had more to do with the amount of glorious beer belly’s on display (including my gradually increasing one) rather than too many tickets sold.
My middle aged moaning aside, this was a gig I was very much looking forward to. Marillion have always been a favourite band of mine although strangely I only started listening to them in 1989 when Seasons End was released. That album marked the first with Steve Hogarth (an excellent singer and front man) on vocals. For some reason it took me a while to realise the magnificence of the Fish era records and it is one of the best that this tour celebrates.
First up though there are four solo tracks, each heartfelt, each with a strong message. Pipeline opens the show and is followed by the title track from 2013’s album, Feast of Consequence. Family Business is preceded by the story of Fish spending four hours in a London A&E days earlier. Johnny Punter completes the four song solo section before which Fish talks about the Bataclan killings and the affect it had on us. Heavy stuff but he completely hits the mark.
To listen to the Childhood album live from start to finish is the way it should be heard. I love this record and Fish sings it with gusto. 50 minutes with little pause, playing the album as was. It’s hard to believe thirty years have passed and seeing the Childhood t-shirts of all ages throughout the crowd showed how much it means to the people here. Yes it is a cliche but each track really is met like an old friend. Kayleigh, Lavender and Heart of Lothian may be the singles but Childhood is a concept album and played in full is the way it should be heard. White Feather ends the record and the brightness of the smiles on the faces around us nearly matches the shine from the bald palettes….no more so than mine.
The show ends with two encores, first up a little boogie to Market Square Heroes, (which still sounds as fresh as the day it was released) and then a little ballet dance to The Company (“…oh boys will you drink to me now…").
As Fish takes his bows, we leg it to the train station. The journey back to London is a painful one but at least now the Mrs knows who Fish is…a mighty man with voice to match…she still doesn't believe Prog rock is a thing though…
Ticket: December 7th 2015
Ticket Price: £25.00