Fish / Lazuli – O2 ABC, Glasgow 13th Dec 2015

Photo by Gary Cooper
Photo by Gary Cooper

RossFish and Marillion aren’t exactly my bread and butter when it comes to my musical tastes but with Fish’s intentions to retire in a couple of years, I wanted to be able to say I saw him at least once. Being the 30th anniversary of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood album, the Farewell to Childhood tour seemed as good a time as any. This, the last date of his latest UK tour, would be the last time Misplaced Childhood would be played in its entirety by Fish in Glasgow.

Sold out months in advance, I was shown no matter what you know; circumstances can change everything which came before. By the time I was in the ABC (one of my most visited venues); I had never seen the place so busy before the support act had taken to the stage. Introduced by Fish himself and preceded by technical difficulties which were met with good humour, Lazuli kicked off the night. Subsequently, I was taken by surprise for a second time. In all my time of enduring many support bands of various sub-genres in the rock spectrum and all varying degrees of good and bad, I have never seen a support act given such a warm welcome.

Complementing the main act, Lazuli captured the crowd’s attention effortlessly and hopefully picking up some new fans on the way, myself included. With two guitars, soft drums, marimba and a leode (have a field day looking for information and pictures for that); the music broke away from my usual sensibilities to present me with something fresh. It’s a good sign in a support act when you want more and you’re not clock-watching, trying to figure out how long they have left.

Photo by Gary Cooper

Following the band, Fish walks onto the stage, welcomed by a rapturous applause, again, like nothing I’ve seen previously. A couple of songs in and not only does Fish prove he’s a great singer in a live environment, he’s an effortless storyteller. As he introduced “Family Business”, he recalled a recent anecdote from a trip to a London A&E (nothing life-threatening, don’t worry), punctuated with various humorous commentary. Then, “The Perception of Johnny Punter” elevated the entire night, something every single person in the room could relate to. Fish discussed the recent events in Paris, on the same stage I had seen Eagles of Death Metal two nights previously, having the time of their life. He insisted that we cannot give into fear but any attempts to quote him here would pale in comparison to the real thing.

I always think it’s amazing to put Fish’s vocals with his appearance. You expect something deep, almost unsettling. Instead, it’s something far softer and it’s aged better than vocalists younger than him; close your eyes and you’d think you were listening to the albums. Hitting high notes with ease, you’d never know his recent hospital visit was affecting his vocals.

Four songs in and the rest of the night was given over to Misplaced Childhood. And after “Kayleigh”, I had to call it a night due to Sunday transport links being awful. However, reactions after the show on Facebook and what I witnessed for myself, I’m sure it was nothing less than stellar and I’m rather disheartened I couldn’t stay on to see the second half, if not another couple of songs. So with this, I’ll pass you over to Gary who managed to catch the full spectacle.

Photo by Gary Cooper
Photo by Gary Cooper

As we hear the piano kick in for the start of Lavender we have to mention the amazing job stand in keyboard player Tony Turrell has done in potentially saving the tour after John Beck fell and broke his arm. I feel like I have been transported back in time to when I caught Marillion on the Misplaced Childhood tour at the Edinburgh Playhouse, close my eyes and I could easily be back in the stalls.

There is something so emotionally stirring about Fish-era Marillion which I have never felt from any other band’s music from the first time at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1983 to the last Fish-era Marillion gig in 1988 in Fife, which explains the sold out venues and fans from all the world here tonight. The Misplaced album played in full from start to finish was a joy to hear again live and you can tell watching the big man how much it means to him as well, not to mention all assembled at the ABC.

It is all over too soon and with sad regret that we reach the end of an era with “White Feather” to conclude Misplaced Childhood with the crowd holding feathers held high and the as-ever enthusiastic sing-a-long to end an amazing musical night. The band and Fish have played their collective hearts out tonight and the crowd have been with them all the way.

The band don’t stay off too long and start back with the fantastic “Market Square Heroes” which in 1982 was the song that turned me onto Marillion, a song which has everybody singing along tonight as you would expect. It has to be said back in the day the Playhouse was bouncing to this but we are all a touch greyer and older so singing along is just as good to avoid any injuries. We end the night with “The Company” from the Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors album, a truly great way to end the evening. We all head out into the night with smiles and those like myself who were there in ’85 fond memories of an end of a era.

All photos by Gary Cooper, including these two Flickr sets: Fish / Lazuli

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