Exclusive / Fish, As Musical Touring Journey Nears The End

Legendary prog rock frontman Fish has been plying his trade on stages for four decades plus. But after all the years of classic albums, memorable gigs and more stories than should reasonably be squeezed into one lifetime, he is calling time on his musical career. MetalTalk caught up with him ahead of the announcement of his final UK tour, culminating in a final farewell at O2 Academy Glasgow in March 2025. Tickets will be available from here on 1 March 2024.

Anyone who follows Fish’s active presence on social media will know that he is a very busy man these days. It doesn’t take long for him to elaborate on how much is going on right now.

“It’s been pretty hectic at the moment,” Fish says. “I’m trying to wrap the Internal Exile reissue sleeve notes. You go back to that period, and it’s like you feel silly. You start remembering everything that was happening at that time. I was writing about some of the litigation, and I was going, I can’t remember.

“I’ve got a great memory, and there are chunks of that thing that I just don’t remember. I think I consciously blocked some of the stuff that went on back then because it was so dramatic.”

Retiring. Fish will say goodbye to the music industry with a big farewell Road To The Isles European tour.
Retiring. Fish will say goodbye to the music industry with a big farewell Road To The Isles European tour. Photo: Steve Ritchie/MetalTalk

Extensive sleeve notes about the recording and more are a consistent feature of any Fish back catalogue special edition release, and the writing process may lead to more in the next phase of his life.

He’s moving to the Outer Hebrides with his wife. “When I move up to the croft, I’ve got the chance up there to get into proper writing,” Fish says. “I think a lot of the remasters sleeve notes have enabled me to plot the route map out in a way. It’s gonna help me when I eventually sit down and do the autobiography. I’ve got a lot of notes sitting there.

“I think Vigil and Internal Exile is a very complicated period with the two remasters to deal with it all. For Vigil, there’s leaving the band, why I left the band, the move up here and everything that happened.

Join Hillbilly Vegas on Tour This July

“The recording of the album, the first tour, the emotions that were going around me at that time. Then I’ve got Internal. I’m leaving EMI and building the studio here.” Fish is speaking from his current home in Haddington.

“I have to deal with a difficult second album,” he says. “It’s a lot to put in. There was a lot of anger at that time, a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions. I was very careful about what I wrote though, made sure that I got the facts right and didn’t get too emotional or angry.”

Fish, former Marillion singer
Fish: “I was very careful about what I wrote though…”

In honour of his impending move to the Scottish Highlands, the veteran troubadour has called his farewell tour The Road To The Isles.

‘”The UK leg is going to be happening in February/March next year. There are only about 12 shows. There’s not that many. One of the tours that I went out on a while back, I won’t name the artist, but they were on a farewell tour. I went out on a tour, and I came back a year later, and they were still on a farewell tour.

“I didn’t want to do that. I don’t like doing things that people always expect me to do. I didn’t want to go out and go round and round and round in circles. I’m not going to North America. I’ve got the right guys around me. It’s the right number of gigs, it’s the right type of venues and the right size, you know.”

When Kiss’ near-endless End Of The Road tour is mentioned, Fish expands on his thoughts about his tour and how it relates to where his career is. “I’m 66 years old this year,” he says. “I’m a realist. Being out on a tour bus isn’t going to somehow magically transform me. I’m not gonna be playing arenas next week.

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on a tour bus. I have other things I like to do, and the business has changed. People’s attitudes to music have changed, and their relationships with music have changed.

“I’ve got a great fan base, but they are all getting older as well. It’s not as if I’ve suddenly got this massive army of teenagers following me. My fan base is getting older. I’m getting older, and there’s a sell-by date.

“But I knew there was a sell-by date in 2015. When I made this decision, I knew there was an end game, and this is the end game. I don’t see any problem, and I’m quite happy with it. My wife and I? We’ve got a great new adventure.”

This eloquent entertainer has always been a great frontman, a dynamic live performer and a true raconteur. Asked how he’ll cope without that side of his life looking forward, he doesn’t see this tour as an end to all performing.

“You don’t have to go on a tour bus and do 60 shows in three weeks or whatever. You don’t have to do that. If I want to come off the island, I can do an A Night With Fish tour and travel a bit in a car with my wife, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and just do that.

“I don’t have to play to thousands of people. You can find other things to fulfil you too. Covid showed that having to rethink how you dealt with your life. As I said at the time, it was like your life went from a foxtrot down to a slow waltz, and I quite liked it, actually.

“I liked the fact that I was going out to the garden, and I saw things I had never seen before. I was getting a different type of satisfaction from life. I think I’ve discovered a new joy in life that I felt had gone missing.”

Returning to thoughts on the tour, the enthusiasm for touring returned, though. “I’m really looking forward to it. It is gonna be fun. We’re gonna enjoy ourselves. We’re gonna play a lot of different tracks. I mean, it’s not just a one-set tour.

“Hopefully, we’ll be learning about 25 to 30 songs. If you look at a standard set of my songs, being about 17 tracks, we just wanted to change them. We can take them in and out every night rather than just doing a block thing. It’s important we have fun, you know.

“There’ll be a couple of Marillion songs, but there’s 11 solo albums, and that’s why we’re doing so many songs in the kind of bucket of songs that are there for the set. We can pick things out and throw things in. We don’t have to be all the different albums and periods and things, and sometimes we’ll just change just for fun.”

Talking about the tour setlist rekindled the discussion about those early solo albums and Internal Exile in particular. “Sometimes I wonder how the fuck did I get through that? You know, how did I manage to make an album in the middle of it all?

“My wife is pregnant, I’m fighting EMI, building a studio here that I couldn’t afford. I was sure that I made a great album. Let me say now, though, that the tuning was wrong, and I don’t mean in a musical sense. But in the sense of like an engine, the tuning was wrong, and I never knew what it was.

“Some of it was to do with the fact that Chris Kimsey (the album’s producer) came here and it was the first album in the studio. So we were dealing with a brand new studio, and it was a difficult second solo album and everything else.

“Callum Malcolm has remixed it, and the songs suddenly have a new energy about them, and there were different dynamics within the songs. It’s like a different album, like a brand new album. It flies by!”

As the interview neared its end, Fish had to move in his chair as he was getting some pain from his recently operated knee. “I knew that if I was going out on the road that, I was gonna have to get both of my knees replaced,” he says. “I got my left knee done in June last year, and this one was done about three weeks ago.

“It’ll be fine. I’ll be driving a car in the next four weeks, and then I’ll be back and forth from the Western Isles. It’s all planning. I stopped smoking on 1 January and in June or July time. I’m looking at taking on somebody to help me with singing and retraining as a singer, just to get my breathing right and my head right.

“Just to get my confidence moving and get myself into the zone before I go into the tour itself.”

Following a two-day presale, public tickets will be available from here on 1 March 2024.

February

19feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | HaddingtonCorn Exchange

21feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | ManchesterAlbert Hall

22feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | WolverhamptonThe Halls

23feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | PortsmouthGuildhall

25feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | LondonThe Palladium

26feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | BristolBeacon

28feb7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | AylesburyWaterside

March

01mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | CambridgeCorn Exchange

02mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | NottinghamRock City

05mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | LiverpoolPhilharmonic

06mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | NewcastleO2 City Hall

07mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | AberdeenMusic Hall

09mar7:00 pmFish - The Road To The Isles Tour | GlasgowO2 Academy

Fish - The Road To The Isles Farewell Tour Poster
Fish – The Road To The Isles Farewell Tour Poster
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