Fish - Liverpool 2021

Added by ant-rocks     December 01, 2021    
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Thanks for the memories big man

Liverpool : Academy - 20th November 2021

Liverpool has become something of a second home during recent weeks, with more and more bands performing in the city closest to where I live. Though the weather is bad, a favourable result for my football team, watched in the pub next to the venue, put me in a great mood even before the music starts.

As the lead-singer of Marillion and as a solo performer I have probably seen Fish more than any other artist. When it was announced that this would be his final tour there was no way I was going to miss catching at least one show. I approached the night with some sadness, but I was also confident that the big man would go out with a bang and give us all something special to remember. It pains me to say therefore, that it was the most uninspiring Fish show I have seen and even before the half-way stage I was bored, and so were large parts of the crowd.

I knew beforehand that the tour was focused on celebrating the 'Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors' album, which was thirty years old in 2020, when the tour was originally scheduled. I was also expecting a couple of songs from last year's excellent 'Weltschmerz' release and then possibly some favourites from the Marillion era, which still remains where many fans hearts lie. Taking my place in the photo pit I got a glimpse of the set-list and... my own heart sank just a little. Still, I hoped things would take on something of a party atmosphere to send everyone home happy. I was surprised to see a stand next to the microphone containing the lyrics to the songs, though I guess it was understandable having seen the set-list, when one considers the lyrical complexities of some of the material. The current touring band includes Steve Vantsis (bass), Gavin Griffiths (drums), John Mitchell (guitar), Spencer Cozens (keyboards) and Doris Brendel (vocals). All excellent, so at least quality musicianship was assured.

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'The Grace Of God' is strange opener, even though it comes at the start of 'Weltschmerz'. It is something of a subdued number and not really the kind to get the audience's blood pumping. Second song, 'Big Wedge', would have been a more prudent opener and has a better up-tempo vibe and gives the crowd something to sing along to. We then return to 'Weltschmerz' territory for 'Man With A Stick' and the tempo drops again. Though I generally get the first three songs to take photographs I can't remember the last time they lasted twenty-five minutes, so at least I'm happy in that respect.

I retreat to the rear of the room to grab a drink and watch the rest of the show in comfort and find more people than usual with the same idea. 'State Of Mind', 'Family Business' and 'Vigil' get a gentle response from the crowd, but the enthusiasm I have witnessed at Fish's Liverpool shows in the past is clearly missing. Even the banter between songs lacks any of the wit one usually expects at a Fish show. 'Rose Of Damascus' then brings the mood down even further. It is a great album track but its fifteen-minute running time saw large pockets of the crowd gathered near my position become very restless. Marillion's 'He Knows You Know' rejuvenated the audience noticeably and the cheer at its conclusion was the biggest of the night. Returning to the 'Vigil....' and 'Weltschmerz' material for the bulk of the rest of the show clearly disappointed many, and only Marillion's 'Fugazi', during the encore, saw any semblance of enthusiasm return once more.

I had to leave for my train before the final song ('The Company') and by then there were large gaps in the crowd and it was easier than it should have been to get out of the building. Speaking to others on the train on the way home my opinions were shared and it was not the show Fish should have left us with. Hopefully he will continue to record and create new music, but as a live entity I think he is taking the right decision. Thanks for the memories big man.

Dave Bott

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