Live Review: Fish, Royal Albert Hall, 9th July, 1990

What's all this then? Fish the TARTAN TROUBADOUR amidst the regal splendour of The Royal Albert Hall? Yes, truly a setting altogether more mature and sober in contrast to somewhere like Wembley Arena, where Marillion, Fish's old playmates would appear just two days later! This was not lost on Fish, as always the sharp-eyed observer: "You can tell it's a class venue because the paintings aren't nailed to the wall!"

The big Scot is hardly a picture of sartorial elegance himself. Bedecked in his now familiar Uncle Sam outfit, he can occasionally come across as an overblown cartoon character. Y'see Fish is a man of extremes; beery, laddish humour one moment and serious, passionate and articulate the next.

However, there are no stories, jokes, or passionate speeches for the brassy and full-blooded Big Wedge, which starts the concert proceedings (well 'gig' doesn't quite cut it in such a refined setting)

We were only ten minutes into the set before Fish got round to his current favourite subject...SCOTLAND! State Of Mind is a real grower of a song which was dedicated to the Secretary of State for Scotland and the first anti-Tory salvo of the evening. Inevitably Fish gets round to the World Cup and this is when he's at his most laddish, but funny with it! "If you're born Scottish you're automatically born a MASOCHIST." No passionate rant about Scotland would be complete without a word or two on self determination. As well as laying into Central government for ignoring Scotland, he also chides his fellow countrymen for their apathy. "One day we'll get up off our arses and do something about it." This serves to introduce Slainte Mhath, which gets the fists punching the air.

Mickey Simmonds creates a soothing, expansive sound on keyboards for Vigil. The band seem more integrated, but you wonder if it 's ever possible to capture the chemistry of a regular band.

The Company, Cliche, and the ballad A Gentleman's Excuse Me are all aired, along with the tried and trusted Marillion material. Fugazi deserves a special mention, even more menacing than last time!

A song written for the next LP Internal Exile ends the evening's entertainment. It's a Celtic jig and Fish does just the stage and jigging with the front rows! Despite his faults and lack of 'cool,' Fish isn't a rock cliche and let's be grateful for that, I mean who else can tell a true story about a blow-up doll and not sound sexist or stupid.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
August 1990
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