Review: Fish – 02 ABC Glasgow 13 Dec 2015

Fish’s show tonight was a celebration tinged with sadness. Dubbed “A Farewell To Childhood” this venue, as well as this tour, sold out a long time ago. As the big man counts down to his retirement, we get to hear ‘Misplaced Childhood’ in its entirety for the very last time.

Before we get to what was to be a memorable performance, we have the matter of the little-known French band Lazuli. Little known in this country, anyway, and to be honest, I was not holding out much hope. As I waited for the band to come on, I scanned all manner of instruments from a French horn to a Glockenspiel, and something I had never even set eyes on before (It turns out to be a Leode, which was created by band member Claude Leonetti). Said band member took to the stage and proceeded to tune this strange and wonderful instrument whilst messing around with pedals and a laptop… unsuccessfully it must be said.
As the crowd cheered the failed attempts at sorting this, it ran through my head… Fish what have you done? Gone and booked some cheap folk band to fill a slot. The problem was sorted and the rest of the band took the stage, a rabble of Viking Goths no less, and they then proceeded to play… and I instantly took back my initial thoughts.
Folk, they may have been, but with some amazing twists, and a serious Rock/Metal backbone. They had this sold out Glasgow crowd eating out the palm of their hand within minutes. The infectious sounds, mixed with the bands enthusiasm, meant you had to pay attention. I do not know if it was the Celtic blood that flowed through the veins of this audience, or not, that saw us all enjoying this show. In fact, the applause this band got when leaving the stage, was louder than many a headliner this venue has had in my presence.
 
The songs were seriously catchy, the playing was technical and brilliant, and at times the pitch of singer Dominique Leonetti’s voice made me wonder if it was also an instrument. I had to do a double take just to make sure he was singing. This was an unusual and very enjoyable set, which saw, as a finale, all band members on the one, huge glockenspiel, playing different parts. They were silhouetted under spotlights and they had the crowd onside with chanting, clapping, and whooping with joy. Tonight was their first performance in Scotland, and I hope to hell they will be back again soon, as I will be there.
After being duly warmed up, the crowd did not have long to wait for the main attraction, well we are not coming to a Fish show for lasers, flash bombs, and the like. The band troupe onto the stage and start setting up. The crowd noise builds until the big man takes the stage, and then it goes into overdrive. There is no milking it and they burst straight into “Pipeline” and “Feast of Consequences” without so much as a “how are you doing?” It is only when we get to “Family Business” do we get Fish telling us of how recent events have reflected this tours set list. We get a hysterical and then sad story of his recent visit to A&E.
With those three songs finished, it is now time for the last ever live presentation of  “Misplaced Childhood”. A lot has been written about this album in the three decades since it was released. I turned 18 the year it was released, and it really was battle cry for me. It hit all the right notes as a young, spotty kid who was now legally allowed to drink alcohol (cough, cough). It hit a chord with love songs, the good and bad of relationships, saying goodbye to childhood, and my ever growing love of the country I was born in. Relationships may have come and gone in my own life but two things have never left me… my love of music and my country.
 
The album made Marillion a household name in both Scotland and across the world. They were on the radio constantly, they had a lot to do with some silly mullets sneaking into schoolyards, and a generation of girls being named Kayleigh. It was, and is to this day, a masterpiece. To hear it live in its entirety was a dream come true.
I still know where the heavy crackles and jumps are from this album on vinyl. I still wait for them even though that record has been long replaced by CD. Live, tonight, the crowd get the rowdiest and loudest around “Kayleigh”, “Lavender”, and then “Heart Of Midlothian”. A song that has so many personal flashes and memories it could bring a tear to a blind man’s eye. Edinburgh is a place etched into my heart and soul, so this song for me was very hard to beat.
 
I cannot say any more around this performance other than you should have been there. Sometimes it is impossible to put into words what you feel, so I can only leave you with the fact I was as drained as Fish come the end of “White Feather”. What a way to put this one to bed sir, it was sublime.
 
We got lots more comedic genius based around drunk Scotsmen and getting your fill at a free bar, but there was also a very poignant moment when he discussed the recent activities at The Bataclan, and finished up thanking the Scottish MP’s for all but two standing up and voting against the bombing in Syria. Maybe not a great thing to bring politics to a rock show but 1: Fish doesn’t care about that, and 2: he is well aware of how people are feeling in this country right now.
 
The show finished off with “Market Square Heroes” and “The Company”. Once again the crowd rose to give a fitting goodbye especially when Lazuli and Yatta (tour manager) took to the stage to say goodbye together. This was a memorable show, and I think the further away I get from it the more important it will become. I know it is going to be chalked up as one of the best.
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Images and review: Ritchie Birnie
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