Fish may be a grizzled rock veteran, but he’s probably never had a gig quite like this one. Walking out onto Glasgow’s O2 Academy stage to start his first show since 13 March 2020, he opens his arms in a welcoming salute, and the genuine and heartfelt roar that greets him brings a huge grin to his face. Fish and his fans are back in the same room, and the buzz is palpable.
Words: Ian Sutherland
Signs of rust and nervousness are few and far between up on stage. Opening tune The Grace Of God from the excellent recent Weltschmerz album sounds lush and atmospheric, keyboard player Spencer Cozens filling out the sound nicely with John Mitchell adding tasteful licks on the guitar. It’s maybe an unusually low key choice for a concert opener, but it seems to let both the band, the crowd and the man on the mike gather themselves for the night ahead.
Several tunes from what Fish insists is his final studio release made the setlist, and all sounded just fantastic. Man With A Stick was all hypnotic groove, Rose Of Damascus was epic and intricate, and The Party’s Over had poignant energy. Best of all, Weltschmerz’s title track was just immense, as good a song as he’s ever done, in my opinion, right up there with the greats.
Of course, some of those greats were aired in abundance as this tour is partly a celebration of his debut solo release Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors, unbelievably reaching its 30th anniversary. As remarked on by the man himself, the sound, tone and subject matter of Weltschmerz and Vigil are remarkably similar, so the set worked seamlessly.
The songs from this first post-Marillion classic were expertly woven through the night, with State Of Mind and Family Business as relevant lyrically as ever. A Gentleman’s Excuse Me worked really well stripped down and with some effective visuals on the big screen behind the band.
Cliche was, of course, a set highlight, John Mitchell’s talents letting him shine through the earworm of a hook line and an exquisite guitar solo. Everyone’s favourite Celtic giant doesn’t have to rely on his Marillion legacy at all thirty plus years down the line, but a nod to the past is always welcome, so He Knows You Know was welcomed like the old friend it was.
It was a magnificent performance of Fugazi that really got the venue jumping, though, a superb rendition of a song that just doesn’t seem to have aged at all.
A rousing singalong to The Company ended a fantastic two hour set on a high, house lights up, and the big man and his audience bonding in a salute to all that they have achieved together during an incredible career.
Where are the prophets? Where are the visionaries? Well, one is still here, so you should catch Fish live again while you still can.