Tag Archives: Fish

Fish announces December 2017 tour

Fish has announced an eleven-date UK tour in December 2017 including two nights at London’s Islington Assembly. The dates are as follows:

  • Fri 8 Leeds University
  • Sat 9 Manchester o2 Ritz
  • Sun 10 Leamington Assembly
  • Tue 12 Cardiff Tramshed
  • Wed 13 Bristol o2 Academy
  • Fri 15 London Islington Assembly
  • Sat 16 London Islington Assembly
  • Tues 19 Cambridge Corn Exchange
  • Wed 20 Newcastle Wylam Brewery
  • Thurs 21 Glasgow o2 ABC

Billed the “Weltschmerz- Clutching at Straws tour”, the shows will feature a full performance of Marillion’s 1987 album “Clutching at Straws” alongside material from his forthcoming album “Weltschmerz”.

These will be his only 2017 live appearances, though a European tour is planned for 2018.

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Fish, Islington Assembly

To mark last year’s thirtieth anniversary of Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood”, Fish played an extensive sold-out tour across Europe billed as “Farewell to Childhood”, playing the iconic 1985 album in its entirety. But handful of shows in France and Germany towards the end had to be postponed when Fish suffered a throat infection, and to turn those rescheduled gigs into a proper tour he booked a handful of additional dates including some further British ones, one of which was at the rather grand Assembly Hall in Islington. Like the British leg of the original tour, it was sold out weeks in advance.

The show kicked off with an impressive “Pipeline”, a number from the 1994 album “Suits” that hasn’t featured in live sets for a long time. The next few songs went from the title track of his most recent album “Feast of Consequences” to “Family Business” from his solo début. The hard hitting “Perception of Johnny Punter” came over a little thin with just one guitar, even with Tony Turrell playing the solo on keys while Robin Boult ground out the Zeppelinesque riff.

We had the usual monologues interspersing the songs, including one about his adventures earlier on the tour in The Netherlands that almost ended with the headline “Fish drowns in canal”. But for a large part of the crowd these opening numbers were just a warm up for the main event, and sadly some idiots insisted on interrupting his lengthy and heartfelt dedication for “Misplaced”. Why do they do it?

Fish’s solo career has taken him away from the neo-prog sounds of his days in Marillion. The approach has been looser, rawer and altogether more rock’n'roll. While he’s always thrown a few Marillion oldies into his live sets, his live bands have tended to reinterpret them in their own style rather than try for note-perfect reproductions of the originals. That approach has served him well, especially when it’s a handful of well-chosen songs. But when it comes to a dense, complex concept album like “Misplaced Childhood” it’s a different matter.

It’s not as though it didn’t have its moments, especially the anthemic “Lavender” and “Heart of Lothian”, the whole thing didn’t quite catch fire with the sort of intensity we saw on, for example, the High Wood suite on the Feast of Consequences tour. Even with the material played in a lower key but there were still one or two moments where Fish struggled vocally. And while the band aren’t attempting to be a note-perfect Marillion tribute act, there were times when you missed having Steve Rothery on guitar.

They ended with rousing encores of “Market Square Heroes” and “The Company” which finished things on a high note, but the gig as a whole seemed a curiously flat experience. The muddy sound early on didn’t help, though it sounded better from the balcony.

Fish has played some memorable gigs in recent years with sets focussing on newer material. This might just have been an off-night, and maybe the hecklers put the band off their stride and made it harder to get into “the zone”, but this was a long way from being the best Fish gig of recent years.

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Steve Rothery Band announce two UK shows

Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has announced the final two Steve Rothery Band shows of 2016 before Marlllion begin their world tour in April.

The dates are Montgomery Hall in Wath on Saturday March 5, and The Junction in Cambridge on Sunday 6th. Titled “The Ghosts and Garden Parties”, they’ll be playing his instrumental solo album “The Ghosts of Pripyat” and Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood”, which he has previously played in full with Martin Jakubsk from the tribute band Stillmarillion on vocals.

With former Marillion frontman Fish also touring Misplaced Childhood, finishing at Islington Assembly on 20th April, the coming months will see a classic album peformed by two different bands, both of which contain one original member of the band that originally recorded it. Has that ever happened before?

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Fish reschedules Dutch shows

It never rains but it pours for Fish. After having to postpone a nunber of earlier shows due to yet another throat problem, he’s now had to reschedule three Dutch Shows for April 2016 after keyboard player John Beck broke his arm.

The UK dates in December will be going ahead as scheduled with Tony Turrell, who has been part of Fish’s band in the past, stepping in as a hasty replacement.

I hope these hastily rearranged dates will not have any knock-on effects for any other bands that share musicians with Fish’s band.

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Farewell to Childhood?

So, Fish has announced that he will follow his festival appearances celebrating 30 years of “Misplaced Childhood” with a UK tour in December, in which the album will be played in full.

Much as I’m a big fan of Marillion and of Fish, I think I’m going to give this one a miss, unless the support act is a must-see.

Fish has been a great live act in the past couple of years promoting his excellent and moving “Feast of Consequences” album. It’s no secret that nowadays his voice today is not the voice he had a generation ago. His upper register is gone, and older numbers need to be played in a much lower key and be rearranged to avoid the high notes. He’s fine on the more recent material, which is written for his current vocal range, and he can get away with a few reworked older numbers thrown in for old times’ sake.

When he last toured Misplaced Childhood in the 20th anniversary in the mid-noughies, the first half of the show consisting of more recent solo material was the better half. The re-tuned Misplaced became dirge-like in places and actually dragged towards the end.

Hearing both the Steve Rothery Band and Marillion themselves tackle pre-1988 material towards the end of last year was an eye-opener, or rather an ear-opener; Steve Rothery’s emotive and lyrical guitar playing is as central to the music as Fish’s vocals, and more significantly Steve Hogarth, as a technically better singer proved capable of taking the songs and making them his own.

If I was to hear the whole of Misplaced Childhood live, I’d rather hear the current incarnation of Marillion play it. But maybe Fish will prove me completely wrong and the whole thing will be a triumph.

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Best Gigs of 2014

Chantel McGregor at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

Unlike almost everyone else, I didn’t get to see Kate Bush’s already legendary shows at Hammersmith in the summer. But I did get to see plenty of other bands, from festivals to free-entry pub gigs, so many in fact that I lost eventually lost count. I do remember nine in thirteen days in December, after which I collapsed in a heap.

These are ten of the best of the year, listed in chronological order save for the gig of the year. Several of them are from festivals, where I’ve highlighted individual sets rather than the festival as a whole.

The Pineapple Thief, HRH Prog, March

The first day of HRH Prog was somewhat patchy, with rather too many rather one-dimensional acts. The Pineapple Thief were the exception, with a magnificently intense set that stood head and shoulders above anyone else on Friday’s bill, including headliners The Flower Kings.

Riverside, O2 Academy, April

Poland’s finest proved they’re every bit as good live as they are on record, the perfect band for anyone still missing Porcupine Tree, but with enough of an identity of their own to sound like any kind of pastiche.

Panic Room, Gloucester Guildhall, April

2014 saw Panic Room back firing on all cylinders again after a somewhat shaky 2013, with the new lineup with then-new guitarist Adam O’Sullivan fully bedded it. They kicked off with an impressive performance at HRH Prog in March, and were on consistently good live form thereafter. It’s hard to single out any one show, but this early one in Gloucester was as good as any.

Magenta, Trinity Live, May

Magenta were only added to the bill of the all-day charity gig very late in the day when Christina’s cancer treatment was progressing well enough to allow her to perform. It’s always remarkable how good Magenta are live considering how infrequently they perform; but this time they completely stole the show. And they deserved it.

Jeff Lorber, Swansea Jazz Festival, June

Most of this years gigs have been prog and metal, so the Swansea Jazz Festival was a change of pace. Among others it featured the veteran trumpeter Dick Pierce, the violin-driven gypsy jazz of Sarah Smith, and the jazz-rock of Protect the Beat. But the highlight of the weekend was Friday night’s set of jazz-fusion from pianist Jeff Lorber. The world of prog contains plenty of virtuoso musicians, but jazz can be on another level.

Mostly Autumn, The Box in Crewe, July

Mostly Autumn have bounced back very strongly after a hit-and-miss 2013, touring to promote the best album they’ve made in years and for the first time playing the new album in full on tour. Despite a fluctuating lineup in the early part of the year due some members’ prior commitments, which saw former flautist Angela Gordon standing in for a couple of gigs, they were back to the sort of live form they displayed in 2011 and 2012. An early highlight was their long-overdue return to Crewe in July.

Mr So and So, Resonance, August

Resonance was a strange festival, with an eclectic mix of bands playing across multiple stages, including a small room tucked away at up at the top of the building. One of the bands in that small room, Mr So and So, were an unexpected highlight, a band who have improved immensely over the past couple of years, with Charlotte Evans coming into her own as a singer.

Chantel McGregor, Cambridge Rock Festival, August

The Cambridge Rock Festival was another highlight of the year, with strong sets from Mostly Autumn, Mr So and So, The Windmill, Cloud Atlas and others. One of the highlights was the guitar-shredding set on Friday from Chantel McGregor, who simply owns the main stage at that festival.

Fish, Reading Sub89, December

Fish had planned to tour the UK in May but was forced to cancel due to Guitarist Robin Boult’s injury. The rescheduled shows in December looked in doubt at one point when the man himself went down with viral laryngitis on the continental leg. But in the end all was fine, and the band were on fire, with a completely new setlist compared to last year, with old favourites like “Big Wedge” and “Incubus” as well as the powerful High Wood suite from his newest album played in full.

It’s hard to narrow things down to just ten, so honourable mentions to Touchstone and IOEarth’s Christmas show in Bilston, The Tangent’s mesmerising performance at Celebr8.3 in Islington, Tarja rocking out the O2 Academy, Steve Rothery at Bush Hall, Opeth’s oldies-heavy set at The Roundhouse, and Alestorm’s booze and piracy in Reading.

It’s even harder to pick the best of the lot, but there can only be one, and this came towards the end of the year.

Marillion, The Forum, December

Even after more than 30 years in the business, Marillion never disappoint live, and their sell-out December Christmas shows were no exception. What was surprising was the number of real oldies they haven’t played for years; “Slàinte Mhath”, “Warm Wet Circles/This Time of the Night” and even “Garden Party” from the Fish era, and several song from “Seasons End” including the magnificent title track. It gave the impression of a band comfortable in their own skins and reconciled with their own past in a way they weren’t a few years back.

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Fish – Reading Sub89

Fish at Sub89 in Reading

Fish has had something of a troubled year gig-wise. First he was forced to postpone the whole of his May UK tour due to the combination of guitarist Robin Boult’s severe case of chicken pox, and a new keyboard player not working out in rehearsals. Then the singers’ nightmare, a bout of viral laryngitis, took out a big chunk of his extensive European tour including the entire French leg. At one point it looked as though his December UK dates, rescheduled from May, might be in doubt. But good reports from the early dates suggested things were back on track.

It’s a long time since Fish came to Reading; the appearance at Sub89 was an additional date, not part of the postponed May tour. His current touring band now includes It Bites’ John Beck on keys alongside Robin Boult and the long-serving rhythm section of Steve Vantsis and Gavin Griffiths.

They began with the lengthy and brooding “Perfume River”, the opening track from last year’s “Feast of Consequences”, building from Floydian keyboard washes and rippling guitar to a hard-rocking conclusion. Next came the more straightforward singer/songwriter-style rocker of the title track. The travails of Fish’s love life continued as the theme of the early part of the set, for next came a couple of songs from his bitterest break-up album, 2007′s 13th Star, the second of them introduced with a lengthy monologue about the way his story of his string of failed relationships left a therapist in tears.

But the centrepiece of the set was the five-song “High Wood Suite”, the very moving concept piece about the Third Battle of Arras in First World War in which both his grandfathers fought. In last year’s tour to promote the album they’d played the highlights, omitting the poignant closing song “The Leaving”. This time they performed the suite in its entirety, and it gains far more power when played in full. It says something that in a venue that’s often notorious for background chatter, you could have heard a pin drop during “The Leaving”.

After that tour-de-force it was crowd-pleasers from much earlier in his career; the rock workout of “Big Wedge” from his first post-Marillion solo album “Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors”, followed by the title track itself, introduced with a lengthy rant about the Scottish independence referendum and a call to political action, and sung from the middle of the crowd rather than from the stage. A crowd singalong of the Marillion hit “Heart of Lothian” closed the main set.

The encores were an intense “Incubus” featuring some impressive guitar work from Robin Boult, who doesn’t get many chances to play a big solo in this setlist, before the show ended with another crowd singalong, the drinking song “The Company”.

Fish was on superb form, with no trace of his earlier voice problems. It’s true that he doesn’t have anything like the vocal power and range of his younger days, sometimes meaning older songs need to be played in a different key. But his stage presence and force of personality is enough to carry the show. With Marillion themselves also on tour at the same time it’s interesting to compare the two; Fish’s band, looser but more energetic, are far more rock’n'roll, and have a quite different feel even when playing Marillion material.

The setlist made a great contrast with that of his last UK tour in 2013. Although the highlights from “Feast of Consequences” featured heavily both times, the rest of the set was completely different, without a single song in common. Like his former bandmates Marillion, and unlike far too many other 70s/80s veterans, there are no standards which you can expect to hear tour after tour. Nobody seemed to care that “Kayleigh” wasn’t played.

With Fish giving indications that this may well be his final tour of club venues on this sort of scale, it’s a case of “see him while you can”. He’s still got it, and still puts on one hell of a show.

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Fish cancels May tour

Fish has sadly been forced to cancel the remaining dates of his May tour. As he says on the Fish website:

It deeply saddens me to announce that I have to cancel the entire UK tour in May.

The shows at Norwich 8th May, London 9th, Cardiff 10th, Exeter 11th, Brighton 13th, Bristol 15th ,Northampton 16th, Holmfirth 17th and Glasgow on the 18th will be rescheduled in September and December and I will give you more information as soon as I have it.

Robin Boult is still seriously unwell with chickenpox and he was incapable of performing to anywhere close to his abilities. His condition has been worsened by a suspected blood infection from aggravated sores on his back chaffed by his guitar strap in rehearsals and he has also picked up an ear infection as his immune system is on the floor.

Everything has happened so fast it’s impossible to bring in and rehearse a replacement to cover the shows and I am left with no other option but to cancel the entire tour.

Disappointing news I’m sure for anyone planning to attend any of those gigs, but unfortunately unavoidable. I wish Robin Boult a speedy recovery, and hope to catch the band for at least one the rescheduled shows in September or December.

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Blind to the Beautiful

The new single by Fish!

Available as a download from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and others. Buy it now and get Fish in the charts!

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Foss Patterson leaves Fish

Fish at HRH Prog 2

Fish announced today that keyboard player Foss Patterson, who has been part of his band for many years, is leaving. He made his last appearances with Fish at a couple of festival appearances in Wales and Mexico in March and April this year.

His replacement will be Mike Varty, best known as the keyboard player for Credo, and ironically also depping for Fish’s one-time Marillion colleague Mark Kelly in DeeExpus. He makes his live debut with Fish on the UK tour in May.

Credo at the 2011 Cambridge Rock Festival

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