12 December 2018
It was the second sold out night of two at Islington Assembly Hall. Fish is a big man in every sense. He strolled onto the stage to cheers from the faithful and his presence was immediate. Fish isn’t cool ,I don’t think he could be , there was no need for pretence, the converted were in and ready. Dancing is not his forte ,it was like that drunk uncle we all know throwing shapes at a wedding but nobody cared so Mr Dick occasionally sat on a bar stool which between songs he explained how it had come into his possession by means of dubious appropriation. The crowd interaction was genuine ,warm and in good humour , Grendel was never going to be played tonight , but it didn’t stop the banter between artist and audience asking for it. He revealed that going under was written and recorded at 4 in the morning whilst under the influence of alcohol and he had to re-learn his own words for this tour. After a small bout of sneezing it was explained that cocaine many years previously had nowadays been replaced by Ibuprofen as his drug of choice due to ageing knees and back.
The 16 song set contained several songs off this years A Parley with Angels EP but the tour was to promote 30 years of Clutching at Straws , Marillion’s 4th long player which was played in full . The album , a concept , followed the character Torch and is deemed by many to be that bands defining moment , as well as Fish’s last studio album with them. It has aged well and sounded as good tonight as it did in 1987. There was respectful appreciation for the new songs, however the auditorium went into overdrive when the TCAS tracks were played, the venue as one sung the words instinctively , this was a sing-a-long with Fish night and for this reviewer Torch song and the encore Tux On were sublime.
Fish is not a rock star , he is more important than that , he is a wordsmith for his generation, his voice spoke for many and still does, anyone who penned the lyrics to a song that named a many-a-new born girl in the mid 80’s deserves recognition.One definition of Icon is a person regarded worthy of veneration, which is exactly where this audience placed him . As Fish closes the musical chapter of his career , he will forever be to many that rare thing indeed, a musical icon and everyone will be the poorer for it when he stops.
Man with a stick
Warm wet circles
That time of the night (short straw)
Little man what now
Just for the record
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Photography courtesy of Manny Manson Photography