Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Fish - Derby University
December 13th 2010
I briefly mentioned my childhood love of Marillion once before on this blog (item 6 in this post) and on Monday night I fulfilled a dream that has been 25 years in the making.
The intervening years were spent in denial that I was ever really that big a fan. In fact I didn't actually hear any of Fish's solo albums until about 3 years ago when I finally started to reach that age where I genuinely didn't give a shit what people thought any more.
So when he announced a low-key acoustic tour and that he was coming to Derby I bought a ticket. As a mark of how far I've come - I didn't even press-gang anyone into coming with me. I went on my own and had a great time.
The support act weren't up to much, the drummer was doing that sitting on a box and thumping it thing and the singer looked like a lion and played some fairly ordinary folk blues stuff. I hit the bar.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Fish's set, never having seen him before, but knowing that it was just him, a guitar player and a keyboard player. If you'd said to me beforehand that they could carry off playing over 2 hours of his back catalog without any amount of backing tape trickery I'd have laughed, but that's exactly what they did. In fact the guitarist played the whole lot on a 3/4 size spanish acoustic. Even the solos.
It was amazing stuff. Fish was funny and engaged with the crowd like it was a room full of friends, and the format really did work. He gave it 100% and was totally into it, despite the lack of a rhythm section he still bopped round the stage like he was hearing one anyway. I think most of the crowd were too.
He talked about football, relationships, war, politics and..erm...filming your own porn..amongst other things - always setting the context for the songs - which he sang in great voice (as a huge Sinatra fan, I'm not speaking lightly when I say that his phrasing is up there with Frankie's)
The greatest thing for me was the way the stripped down format allowed you to absorb the lyrics and hear things you wouldn't normally pick up on. Let's be honest the showboat nature of Prog Rock seems to inadvertently do all it can to divert the listeners attention from the vocals. That's probably why so many Prog bands have such cheesey lyrics about goblins and shit. No one cares (apart from people who like goblins maybe, and to be honest I think there were probably a few in this crowd who would have been happy either way).
It seemed like no time at all before 2 hours of this had passed, and for an encore they did a Kayleigh / Lavender medley. In fact it was lovely to hear him be so humble about those "hits". He's a bloke who knows what those songs mean to people and what they mean to HIM in terms of how his life would have been if they hadn't been such globally successful singles.
I think my highlight was the song he did with just the piano behind him.
Fish - A Gentleman's Excuse Me
This is a live version from a few years ago, but you get the general vibe. It seems lazy to call it spine-tingling but it really was exactly that.
I've not enjoyed a gig so much in ages, and on the way home I had one of the strangest spiritual experiences of my life. Completely unrelated to the gig, as far as I can tell, but one more reason why I'll never forget Monday night.
In fact I must have been in a bit of an altered state by the end of the gig as I filled all my gaps in the CD rack when I saw that they were knocking out most of his solo albums for a fiver on the merchandise stand (and it seems via
his own website shop)
He may never be cool but I'm 40 tomorrow and I don't give a fuck. He's my hero.