Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Duncan Everson (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
I’m sure Fish must have had moments when he wished he’d called this tour something other than “The Moveable Feast Tour”, as that seems to have been an invitation for the God of Gigs to mess with him. Originally scheduled for May this year, the tour had to be postponed due to guitarist Robin Boult contracting and suffering badly from chicken pox. The re-scheduled dates were going well in mainland Europe until Fish developed laryngitis and had to postpone 17 dates until early next year. Thankfully the rest helped Fish recover and he was able to keep to the schedule for the UK leg. Next time call it “The Dates Set In Stone Tour” perhaps, although it’s a very good way to build anticipation!
The job of support for Fish was always going to be a difficult position to fill but he made it as easy as possible for Calum Busby by coming onstage to introduce him to the crowd, which was something I don’t recall seeing before. Calum is a singer songwriter who plays acoustic politically driven folk according to his Facebook page (head over and give him a “Like”!) and that is a perfect description. He has a great voice, plays guitar very well and writes good songs with a political message, so he has no chance of mainstream success then! However, there is definitely a market for intelligent artists with something to say and so with a bit of luck we’ll hear more from Calum in the future. I enjoyed his cover of “California Dreamin’” but probably “Hypochondriac” was my favourite, which had a very strong vocal performance in particular although “Grace” also had a great attack to the delivery which I enjoyed too. I’ll be interested to see what he does in the future.
Calum Busby – Vocals/Acoustic Guitar
I’ve been a huge fan of Fish for many years now and unfortunately it’s been 9 years since I saw him last, so when he told me in an interview (that can be read here – https://myglobalmind.com/2014/09/12/interview-fish-vocals-fish-former-marillion) that this will be the last tour of this format he will do, then there was no way I was going to miss the chance to see him again, possibly for the last time. Starting the set with “Perfume River” immediately answers a number of questions, such as; how will the new material sound live and how is Fish’s voice? The answer to both is the same – excellent. In fact there are no signs of his recent throat problems all evening, which can only bode well for the rest of the tour.
The title track of “Feast…” is next up and is as good as expected, the only thing missing was the projected images that usually show behind the band to heighten the environmental message behind the song but due to the Fleece’s layout, their screens are placed at either side of the room so are in fact behind me, unseen. If I didn’t know they were supposed to be there I wouldn’t have known to look, which I did from time to time throughout the evening. “Manchmal” came next and was easily the heaviest song played all evening, even more so than on the “13th Star” album. Also from the same album was the next song, “Arc of the Curve” which was gorgeous and gave John Beck on keyboards a moment to shine, especially on the ending, where he did a little improvising, which was greeted with a nod and a smile from Fish.
Then came a masterclass in how to spellbind an audience as Fish took a few minutes to tell us the story behind his writing of what is now known as “The High Wood Suite”, during which not a single sound was heard from the crowd – not even a drunken call for “Grendel”! It was a magical moment and one I’ve never experienced before at a gig. The suite itself, despite lasting over 30 minutes seems to be over in mere moments, such is the engrossing nature of the music. Fish is clearly moved by the personal nature of the story he sings and the collection of fantastic musicians he has around him all help to bring the magic fully to life. The 5 songs that make up the suite – “High Wood”, “Crucifix Corner”, “The Gathering”, “Thistle Alley” and “The Leaving” – allow the band to fully show off their musical chops, as there are quiet sections, loud sections, fast and slow, light and shade all played brilliantly and by a band clearly enjoying their time together. The glances to each other and grins show how well they get on and gel together and they all played their parts excellently.
Before “Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors”, Fish tells the audience to make sure they use their voice for change and vote, before jumping from the stage to begin singing the song as literally “a voice in the crowd”. He wasn’t the only voice singing, however, as the older material is clearly much better known and the Bristol crowd start to find their voices. This is especially evident on the next song, “Heart of Lothian” when, judging by the noise, everyone in The Fleece was singing along, me included. Quite an amazing choir we made too!
After a short break the band returned to the stage for, as it turned out, just 1 more song. “Incubus” is Fish’s favourite Marillion song and it could well be mine now after hearing this version. Robin Boult played an absolutely incredible solo during the song and there was some improvised work at the end that was just spectacular. Even Fish was visibly impressed as he was beaming from ear to ear and gave him a look to say “good job!”
Having had a sneaky look at the setlist before the start, I could see that “Blind to the Beautiful” and “The Company” were due to be played but weren’t tonight. There were a few disappointed faces around when the lights came on but it would be churlish to complain about what wasn’t played when what was played was so good. What we got that night at The Fleece was an hour and three quarters of near perfect music and if this is to be Fish’s last club tour then I couldn’t think of a better memory to be left with.
Fish – Vocals
Robin Boult – Guitar
Steve Vantsis – Bass
John Beck – Keyboards
Gavin Griffiths – Drums