Fireworks

Fish Sheffield 2021 Hot

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Artist

Artist

Still makes an impression does Fish, obviously

FISH
Sheffield: Academy - 19th November 2021

I remember seeing Fish way back in the day, when Marillion played the local club, face daubed in warrior paint and walking among the crowd while singing. That was a long time ago, and Fish has put some weight on since then, and lost some hair, like most of us, but other than that he's still very much Fish. Before we were honoured with his presence however, we had the support act in the shape of his old mate Doris Brendel, who I also remember being his support on the last tour.

And two years away hasn't lessened her ability to perform, with strong renditions of her material and the added bonus of some very atmospheric (what looked like) elongated tin whistle or possibly flageolet, introducing alternative texture to the music. The crowd was more than happy with what she presented, and there was a bit of theatre at the end of second song 'It's Never Too Late', where Doris bent forward like a run-down clockwork toy, before the bass player came on with a large key to wind her back up again. The set ended with 'The One', a song that I recalled they did last time, incorporation audience participation, with the guitarist and bassist playing drums on either side of the stage.
Set list: The Other Side Of The World, It's Never Too Late, You're Everything, Latest Fantasy, Why Are You Still Here, You Took My Breath Away, The One.

I didn't know who the musicians were with Fish on this tour, and when a crew member walked on stage with a guitar I immediately said "That looks like John Mitchell's". When they came on at 9pm, the first person on was Arena/It Bites guitarist John Mitchell! Closely followed by the rest of the band, including Doris, Fish finally walked on to loud applause and cheering from the mainly middle-aged, latter years audience, following which he started off with 'The Grace Of God' from his latest album 'Merschmerz'. Someone must have become over-excited at his appearance, as two people were seen assisting a young lady from out of the crowd. Still makes an impression does Fish, obviously.

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As the tour was titled 'Vigil's End', I expected to hear a few tracks from the 'Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors' album, and we then had a whole block of four songs from the album, namely 'Big Wedge', 'State Of Mind', 'Family Business' and the title track, with 'Man With Stick' (without the stick) slotted between the first two of these. Between the latter two, he explained that he had a roadie for his glasses and a roadie for his hearing aid, and at sixty-three years old bits were falling off him all the time, but then showed that he could still do an "eighties rock star pose", at which point he placed his left foot on the monitor before him, saying "both feet", before doing the same with his right and then complaining "that one hurt". Following 'Vigil', and the football chants of "Derek Dick, Derek Dick" (Fish's real name), Fish explained how almost all of the roses growing in this country derived from the Damasc rose (from Damascus), before performing the song inspired by it. This was fifteen minutes long, but then the oldies really perked up with 'He Knows You Know' from his Marillion days.

By the end of the main set he had done two more from 'Weltschmerz', the latter of which, 'This Party's Over', saw John Mitchell starting the wrong song, and at the end Fish informed us that his sister was there, before doing two more from 'Vigil' to end the set. It wasn't long before he and keyboard player Spencer Cozens were back with 'A Gentleman's Excuse Me' and the second Marillion song 'Fugazi' with the whole band. After leaving and coming back on again, the last song of the night was 'The Company'.

Having done all but one song from his debut solo album, alongside four from the latest and two from his Marillion days, Fish had kept things quite constrained. He had probably given the crowd what they wanted, but I couldn't help coming away thinking they would have been equally, if not more happy, had he done old Marillion songs all evening, such was the demographic of the crowd. To be fair though, they all sang along to new material, even taking over vocals on occasion as Fish took a breather. He still knows how to perform, if not as energetically as in his younger days, and his between song patter has not lost any of its edge, or accent, over the years. Will we see him again, as he has spoken a lot about retiring? Right at the very end, he said, "I am Derek, I am Fish, for one more year". That probably tells us a lot.


Set List: The Grace Of God, Big Wedge, Man With A Stick, State Of Mind, Family Business, Vigil, Rose Of Damascus, He Knows You Know (Marillion), Weltschmerz, This Party's Over, Cliché, View From The Hill
Encore: A Gentleman's Excuse Me, Fugazi (Marillion)
Encore 2: The Company


Andy Brailsford/Lou C.

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