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Review: Books, Theatre, Movies, Albums & Gigs.

Fish “Clutching At Stars” Tour

Pacific Road Arts Centre
Tuesday 25 September, 2007

Image: Fish live in concert 2007


When the behemoth that is Fish took the stage at precisely nine p.m. there was an air of expectancy few could have hoped to justify. Standing in the queue outside, the faithful gathered – some from as far away as Exmouth in Devon – who on hearing the man was performing, just had to be here.


There were those from Liverpool, too, and one lady – wearing green and sporting a blonde hair do – who said before the show: “I’m only here ‘cos me husband was dragged to Take That. I hate all this Hard Rock stuff”.

So much for the purists then.


Still, with Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra fading into the distance a brief and humorous slideshow of the preceding twenty years disappearing beneath a hail of lights, there he was – Derek W. Dick – in all is glory, breaking into Slainte Mhtah with a gusto that really did strip away the last twenty years.

Image: Fish live in Birkenhead 2007This was set to be a celebration. Not only of Fish’s extraordinarily good new album, 13th Star, but also of one of Marillion’s biggest albums, Clutching At Straws, which proved to be his last with the band way back in 1988.

And so, the party began.

The first of the new songs, Circle Line, had maps of London’s underground and of Fish himself spinning in and out, whilst he set about barking out the lyrics and taking control, prowling the stage like Death’s apprentice looking for a fresh victim.

Okay, there were some omissions from the set list that were sadly missed. Oldies like Credo and Gentleman’s Excuse Me and the highlights of the new album, Zoë 25 and Arc Of The Curve were all missing, alongside Goldfish And Clowns. Nor was there anything from Misplaced Childhood, but that had been done in its entirety last year, so it was good to see it given a rest and to hear some old stuff not quite so usually given the time of day.

What was left, though, was spellbinding; ripped out by a band so attuned to each other’s styles, barely a note was missed and it is amazing how well the new stuff sits beside the old.

Square Go is the perfect bedfellow of So Fellini as is Manchmal to Shadowplay, whereas one of the many momentous moments of the night came from Clutching and the anthemic Hotel Hobbies trilogy, delivered with such power the audience could do nothing but lap it up.

Image: Fish performing live in 2007Sugar Mice slowed the tempo to “last dance at the school disco” mode straight after – a song of love and regret fuelled by distance, Fish still fills it with emotion even after so many years – at the end of which he left the stage, only to reappear in the auditorium proper, to the strains of Vigil, from where he sang the song’s opening verse much to the joy of those who managed to actually touch the guy as he made his way through them.
Absolutely stunning showmanship.

With White Russian and Old Cliché filling in nicely before the end, it was left to the riotous Incommunicado and The Last Straw to send the crowd home deliriously happy and short of voice.

Outside, Mrs. Green-top of earlier was seen happily hugging her husband’s arm, shouting aloud the final strains of Incommunicado into the clouded night sky, mindless of the rain. Now that is true conversion. From Take That to take THAT in a single bound is the truly the stuff of magic and mirrors, surely.

A brilliant night out and one not to be missed.

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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