Support: Doris Brendel
The last time I was at the Islington Assembly Hall it was only a quarter full (and unfortunately, that's been pretty generous). That night the artist in question did their very best but it was a tough gig for them and the venue did not seem particularly impressive (like a disused, creaking, old school hall). Tonight there were no such ticket struggles for Fish and the Islington Assembly Hall took on a whole new life.
Dumping off our jackets in the cloakroom (£2...not bad) I was asked by the attendant who Fish were. ‘An American band?’ he ventured. ‘Nope, a very Scottish man’, I replied. I mentioned Marillion and was close to singing Lavender but thought better of it. He was none the wiser.
This was the second of two sell out London gigs celebrating the 1987 Clutching At Straws album. That long player was the last that Fish completed with Marillion before walking away a year later. It is arguably their very best. I love the album, even more so than Misplaced Childhood, and have it as one of my ‘go to’ records. Slàinte Mhath is the song I listen to the most...and it is that which kicks things off here.
It's a hell of a start. A triumphant Fish singing the classic song to an adoring, balding, ageing crowd. I fit in perfectly. New song Man With a Stick is second up and is undoubtedly one of the best on his new EP, A Parley With Angels (‘55 Minutes worth…value for money’). The first three tracks on the Straws album, Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles and That Time of the Night are next and I think there is a small tear in my eye. It’s so good hearing these songs live again.
The set is an excellent mix of the classic album and new tracks. It’s wonderful to hear oldies like Going Under and Sugar Mice but one of the highlights in the set is Waverley Steps. A brand new song that is splendid...really splendid. I reckon it’s a new classic in the making.
Of course there are always a few in the crowd that are not happy…the shout outs for Grendel are getting increasingly tiresome…I mean do they think they are original? One person in particular (2 pint wanker) kept going on and on but Fish put him in his place. ‘Grendel? Aw shite you should have been here last night we played it then’. Brilliant
Us Marillion fans are a loyal bunch (so many band T-Shirts on display) but it’s easy when Fish is in such great form. His voice is strong and his humour is as brilliant as ever. Doris Brendel (now known as Grendel Brendel) is fab on backing vocals and a big shout out to the rest of the band including ‘Tufty?’ on keyboards and the magnificent Robin Boult on guitar. They do all the classic material proud.
Fish has never stood still. The new songs are really good but I can’t deny it is the Clutching at Straws songs that I love. The main set closer The Last Straw is simply joyous…I’m still singing it now. An encore of Tux On and Incommunicado completes the 2 hour + set.
A celebratory night then. Loved it but then I love the man. He is someone who talks much sense, Indeed if you don't follow Fish on Twitter or Facebook or his own site you really should. As on stage, in the virtual world, he is always honest and straight talking. One of the few it seems.
Ticket: December 8th 2018
Ticket Price: £27.50