30th September 2008
The Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Article By Janke Rijpkema
Live photos by Karin Spanjersberg
So out of the blue, another Fish gig at the Boerderij. He was supposed to have been in Lyon tonight, but that gig got
cancelled at short notice because of problems with the promoter, so he came to Holland instead. En route between shows in Malta and Switzerland, it's not obvious to me why, but who cares. Maybe it was because there are no plans this year for one of Fish's traditional Christmas gigs in Zoetermeer. He reminded us about that several times during his performance and wished us a very Happy Christmas!
With only a week's notice, the venue still managed to sell around 300 tickets. Fish’s
fan club helped by spreading the word. The atmosphere was very intimate, not as crowded as it normally is.
The stage was quite sober, no projections on the background. Actually I expected more, since this was the beginning of a new tour. Still, after the intro, when the big man entered the stage, there it was again – the vibe that only Fish can give you. He started with Slainthe Mhath. The first notes already gave me goosebumps, but that’s just always the way for me with songs from Clutching at Straws. The strange thing was, they didn't last. I don’t know if this song is such a great opener. It’s also possible that I wasn’t yet in the right mood for the gig. I had the feeling that Fish wasn’t either, until much later.
Tonight's was not his best singing performance, to say the least. The band was in top form though, especially at the beginning of the show. Fish seemed quite happy however, and flirted with the audience. There were more intimate conversational interludes than on former occasions I attended. He talked about football, ex-girlfriends, wine and spun tales from the road. The Dutch punters seemed to love every minute of it and had no problems understanding his English. I did at some points, but still it was funny now and again. Fish likes Holland and its liberal ways, that much was clear from his banter. And who wouldn't, with a
coffee shop right next door to the venue?!
The setlist's predictability was a shame, similar to last year’s. Fish has such a back catalogue to choose from. Then again, he has his new bass player, Gavin Dickie, to consider, and little time to rehearse between tours. But I liked the songs from 13th Star, there was a new dimension to them tonight. They stand for Fish as he is nowadays, Square Go was especially convincing. And I can’t recall hearing Zoë 25 before, so that was great as well. Dark Star and Open Water really rock. A big applause for Frank Usher, of course, in Cliché. Still, overall, the show wasn't what it supposed to be. There were moments, but also missing links. Maybe I’ve just seen him too often.
This tour is called "Search for the 13th Star, Part 3: The Final Voyage", which explains the abundance of tracks from that album. At least they sold new clothing, girlie’s for only 10 euro. There also was that vibe in the crowd. And you don't go see Fish for high quality music. You go to have a party, to wallow in the past and to feel the energy that goes with him. But no goosebumps this time, not even with Kayleigh and Lavender. I liked hearing them again, though. They are a trip down memory lane. They were also the only songs my companion for the evening had heard before, so I was glad for him. The lead to these songs, was the reminder of Fish about the 6-CD live box set "Marillion: The Early Stages 1982 – 1987", which has recently been released.
Although I liked the old encores, I still wished for The Last Straw, and my wish came true – only not like I hoped it would. There was something about the way they played it, or was it the sound? Fish didn't seem to care. As a closing number, this song can be perfect, but it can also leave you unfulfilled. No Christmas bells for me. Maybe there will be more solo-stuff next year, or another album to celebrate. Or maybe I’m just clutching at straws....
Hotel Hobbies/That Time of the Night
Arc of the Curve
The Last Straw
Fish Official Website
DPRP Review: 13th Star