Album Reviews

Fish – Return to Childhood: Live

(Snapper) UK release date: 1 May 2006

Fish - Return to Childhood: Live In November 2004 I witnessed Fish say something which left me slightly shocked. Even though it may be the public consensus these days, the former singer with prog rock revivalists Marillion stood up whilst headlining the second edition of the ill-fated Progeny festival and said “I hate prog”.

Consider my surprise then when shortly afterwards it was announced that the giant Scot would be going out on the road to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood album, a work thought by many to be the band’s finest hour.

It seems that Mr Derek Dick had been just a bit hasty with his comment at London’s Astoria that November and exactly a year later he was performing the show that forms the music on this double CD collection, a concert recorded in Tilburg, Holland.

The tour took in Europe and South America, including a handful of festival shows in front of 200,000 people in Den Haag, and proved so successful that Fish is actually taking the same show on tour again this year. It seems that the whole concept was a slice of humble pie which has proved rather easier than expected to swallow.

The show from Tilburg is presented in its entirety over two CDs, the first half offering up a greatest hits of Fish’s post-Marillion solo career and the second half being the performance of Misplaced Childhood along with a few other old favourites thrown in at the end.

The solo hits section of the live collection goes to show that Fish has produced some strong material in his seven studio albums since his departure from Marillion in 1988, a collection of records that has often been overlooked.

The anti-American Big Wedge starts everything off in rousing fashion and features some stunning guitar virtuosity from Frank Usher. Brother 52 also has everyone up on their feet, while the proggy Moving Targets is drenched in keyboard sounds and the spoken prose Fish has incorporated into much of his solo work.

Goldfish and Clowns is a real highlight of the set while the singer confirms what a competent front man he is at the start of Innocent Party, commanding the audience with “I want to see every pair of hands in the air”. Anyone who has seen Fish live will know exactly what a huge presence he has on stage.

Return To Childhood was a number one album for Marillion in 1985 and the songs on the second disc still stand up today, from the eerie Pseudo Silk Kimono to the hit singles, Kayleigh and Lavender. It has to be said the vocal on Kayleigh is a disappointment but Lavender compensates in storming fashion.

Fish was a gardener before he became a singer. He must have been one of those creepy ones you can imagine reading about in Stephen King novels. His vocal quality has a sinister edge and this is shown on the dark and twisted Bitter Suite.

The anthemic Heart of Lothian proves to be highlight as does the guitar work of Usher on the multi-part Blind Curve. The guitarist makes a good attempt at replicating Steve Rothery’s original parts and a sound which always sounded very reminiscent of Genesis’ Steve Hackett.

The collection ends by continuing the nostalgia with some more old Marillion favourites, including the band’s first single back in 1982, Market Square Heroes. This is one of the few songs from before his solo career that Fish included in sets before the Misplaced Childhood tour and it seems that every fan in the audience knows every word of it. If Marillion fans are nothing else they are committed and loyal.

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