Opening proceedings this evening, and the main support band on Fish's current tour are Irish retro-rockers Glyder. According to their official website, they've been on the scene since 2004, though I admit to being completely unfamiliar with their material, so witness their set with an open mind and no expectations. Musically, Glyder are firmly rooted in the 70s/early-80s, pertaining to classic rock-metal idioms throughout their songwriting with succinct compositions pastiching the likes of Thin Lizzy and early Iron Maiden, and their overall sound is not too dissimilar from what The Black Crowes were doing during the early 90s. I am little surprised to see the Drill Hall only around half full during Glyder's set, with a significant amount of punters preferring to stay in the bar area outside but, then again, this is typical of Lincoln's generally apathetic music scene, where people are largely unadventurous in seeking to discover new bands and, tonight, have obviously turned up solely to see Fish. This is a pity because Glyder, although largely unoriginal, deliver a lively and musically entertaining performance with their retro-style well received by those who do make the effort to watch their set. Overall, nothing new here, though the Irish quartet are one of the better contemporary retro-rock/metal bands I've seen.
Wednesday 12th March 2008
Drill Hall in Lincoln, UK
They say that good art can result from a person's misery and emotional unrest. Some have speculated that Fish's critically lauded new album, '13th Star', hailed by many as his best solo work to date, was subjectively fuelled by his much publicised break-up from Mostly Autumn's Heather Findley last year. Lyrically, the album can certainly be interpreted in this way but, like I say, this is pure speculation and, most importantly, with '13th Star' Fish has released a set of very contemporary sounding compositions that some critics have suggested equal anything he recorded with Marillion back in the 80s. On tour in support of the new album, tonight is Lincoln's turn to witness Derek Dick and crew perform what has been advertised as songs from both his solo career and classic Marillion release 'Clutching At Straws'. Commencing around 9pm, the venue is now three quarters full, and fans cheer loudly as their hero appears on stage. '13th Star' is heavily represented in the set with songs such as 'Zöe 25', 'Dark Star, 'Circle Line', 'Manchmal' and the album's title track sounding every bit as good live as they do recorded, and the modern-edged prog-rock nature of the material is refreshingly contemporary in style. As promised, there's also an airing of Marillion numbers with the likes of 'Incommunicado' and 'White Russian' well received by the older rockers present in the audience (of which there are many with their balding heads, grey hair, and denim jackets!). Fish is an entertaining and charismatic frontman, adopting a serious persona while delivering his powerful vocals, then chatting to the crowd with his characteristic good humoured wit in between songs, sometimes for five minutes at a time, with stories ranging from the dried-up microwaved mushroom soup he'd eaten in a Wetherspoons pub earlier in the day which prompted him to tell a barmaid the food was "shite", and then being told off by the manager for swearing at his staff, to the announcement that he would be playing in the O2 arena the following night, stating sarcastically "it'll be like being in a big band again"! Occasionally reducing the audience to hysterics, I'm sure the man could have a successful career in stand-up comedy should he ever want a break from the music! A few words must also be said about Fish's band, which oozes pure musical talent. Guitar virtuoso Frank Usher, playing a rather attractive looking axe custom built by himself in his own workshop, plays lead parts and solos with affective finesse. Bassist Steve Vantsis and recently departed Mostly Autumn drummer Gavin Griffiths hold a tight rhythm section, while the multi-talented Chris Johnson, who also recently exited Mostly Autumn shines on guitar and harmonic backing vocals. Winding up the pre-encore set around 10.30pm, they exit the stage to enthusiastic cheers and applause only to return a couple of minutes later for another half hour of material. With an album as good as '13th Star', coupled with stunning live performances such as tonight, Fish has proved himself still musically relevant in 2008 and is indubitably a man artistically in his prime.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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