Fish - June 15th, 1997
Live at De Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

By Ed Sander


I drove to Eindhoven with mixed feelings. Although I really liked the new CD and it just might the best thing Fish has done since Vigil, I had also been watching the concert for Bosnia a week earlier and it had left me completely cold.
It had been almost two years since I saw Fish perform (Vosselaar) and in the meantime the feelings of 'being a Fish fan' had certainly dwindled a bit.

After a support act of 30 minutes, during which three guys with acoustic guitars played some enjoyable but far from original music, the stage was prepared for Fish's performance.
A couple of minutes before 10 o'clock ex-Arena guitarist Keith More came on stage and started playing the riff of Perception of Johnny Punter. A few seconds later the rest of the band followed. When Fish entered the stage, dressed in camouflage trousers, a black sleeveless Fish T-shirt and a green scarf I realised - also because he didn't have a beard an bandana this time - that the years are starting to count for our Scottish friend. Nevertheless, during Perception he proved that he still has his familiar energy. During the whole gig he also had less vocal problems than I had expected.

The new band with Mickey Simmonds (keyboards), Steve Vantsis (bass), Dave 'Squeaky' Stewart (drums) and Keith More (guitar) was splendid. Perception - which already is one of my favourite tracks on Sunsets on Empire - was played very tight and convincing, including a killer-solo by Keith.

The second song was What Colour is God. The audience obviously liked this one because they were swinging along. Nevertheless, I considered it a shame that the track leaned quite heavily on the use of samples, which took away most of the 'live feeling'.

After an anecdote about messages in tomatoes Fish announced Family Business. The crowd roared their approval and sang along loudly to this one.
Fish then told a story about the goldfish in plastic bags you can win at the fair and how they always float dead in their bowls the next morning.
Keith had a bit of trouble playing along with Mickey during the next song, which of course was Goldfish and Clowns. Fortunately he picked up quickly after the intro and a great version of this former potential single followed.

After the only Suits song of the evening, Mr. 1470, Fish told a story about the 'young mentals' who used to terrorise the fairs in his childhood. This of course was the introduction to Jungle Ride. I was under the impression that Keith's acoustic guitar wasn't tuned as well as it should have been, but besides that it was a great version of this song and Fish acted out the frustrations of the victim of the 'young mental' in a convincing way. Steve's bass playing was also stunning.

The audience went crazy when a medley of old stuff was the next thing they got to hear. Jungle Ride went straight into Assassing, which in it's turn flowed into Credo and Tongues. Once again Credo proved to be a fantastic live song and an obvious live favourite of the audience, which sang along at the top of their voices.
After a short drum solo by Squeaky the medley continued with the end section of Fugazi followed by White Feather. It was great to hear these again and I think I'll even forgive the guy next to me who was fanatically dancing on my left foot. The end of White Feather was quite remarkable; Fish encouraged the audience to keep shouting 'Credo !' while he himself sang the closing lyrics of Fugazi. A nice and original combination.

After all this musical violence a moment of tranquility followed with the beautiful Cliché. Once more Keith had a chance to prove that he's a great guitarist. Many Fish fans were probably amazed by the presence of such an energetic guitarist in his band. And with energetic I refer to all the dancing around, headbanging, falling on his knees and throwing the guitar across his back. Now that's quite something else from Robin Boult and Frank Usher.

With Brother 52 the 'groove' of the new album continued. The first violin solo was played by Mickey on the keyboards, while Keith played the one in the second break on his guitar. A few Fish fans who were not (yet) familiar with the new material clearly didn't know what they should think about new songs like these. Well, it's just a case of getting used to the new style. Like it or leave it.

Lucky closed the main set. During the break at the end the (new) band members were introduced to the audience. Mickey Simmonds got a roaring 'welcome back' applause. Keith also seemed to be accepted by the fans.

After a short while the band came back for the encore. Fish asked ex-Company chairman Peter 'Wookie' Wolters to come on stage, where he was officially thanked for the work he had put in the fan club during the past years. After this intermezzo the band played a fine version of Worm in a Bottle while Fish staggered across the stage with a bottle of wine from which he let the band members drink. It was rather funny to see how Mickey kept playing while Fish pulled his head back to empty the bottle in the mouth of the keyboard player.

Fish asked the band to play some silly ditty while he did an 'expensive costume change'. Mickey and Dave played a funny tune and after a while Fish returned in a football shirt. As you can imagine, a story about football followed and (what else would you expect) the fight for independence in Scotland. You can probably guess which song followed: Internal Exile. The end of the song flowed into the middle section of The Company and Fish succeeded in having most of the audience twirl like ballet dancers. He still is an incredible entertainer. I know few other singers who can wrap an audience 'round their finger the way Fish can.

The show should have ended there. However, the audience kept yelling for more and one fan even climbed on the stage to encourage the rest of the people to shout out. Finally the band came back and the evening ended around 12 o' clock with an 'unrehearsed', but as far as I'm concerned fine version of Raw Meat.

The show itself was rather meagre; a simple light show, no decorations or stage props. It was clearly all about the music.

It was a fine concert and to be honest, the changes in band members really brought a new and fresh sound to the band. Compared to the concert for Bosnia this performance was a master piece. Two minor disappointments: the new logo is awful and they didn't play Sunsets on Empire.

Like I said, I had my doubts when I went to this concerts, but went I drove back home I realised why I'm still a member The Company Holland. The faith is healed. Ladies and gentlemen, Fish is back !

The band:

Fish - vocals
Keith 'reduces weight of tour bus with 50%' More - guitar
Steve 'vinegar in Spain' Vantsis - bass
Dave Squeaky 'oldest serving member' Stewart - drums
Mickey 'confined to an asylum after playing with pop bands' Simmonds - keyboards

Setlist:

Perception of Johnny Punter
What Colour is God
Family Business
Goldfish & Clowns
Mr. 1470
Jungle Ride
Medley:
Assassing
Credo
Tongues
Assassing
- drum solo -
Fugazi (closing section)
White Feather

Cliché
Brother 52
Lucky

Worm in a Bottle
Internal Exile/The Company

Raw Meat


Fish - June 15th, 1997
Live at De Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

by Bart Jan van der Vorst

"Absolutely F***ing Brilliant!!!"

...is the only way to describe this Fish gig.

I had no intention at all to go to this gig, since it was a fanclub-only gig and I am not a fanclub member anymore. Also, the gig was on my girlfriend's birthday and I wanted to spend the day with her (of course). That was until Mark "Itchy" Bredius and I were chatting on IRC and he told me that he had been invited by Fish to come to the gig and meet him. He said he probably had to turn the offer down since he had no transportation and the tremendous trains in Holland stop running at 11.30 pm. Now I would be willing to drive him to Eindhoven, but of course only if I would have a chance to meet Fish too. One e-mail to Jeremy Lawson was enough to get us both on the invitation list.

Now the next problem: Girlfriend! :-)
I told her about the offer and of course she was disappointed, but told me I should take to offer, for this is a once-in-a-lifetime-chance. (what a girl!).
When I phoned the venue in Eindhoven for directions how to get there, I decided to give it a try and asked whether they had any spare tickets - "No Sir, the gig is sold out". When I explained the whole thing to the guy, the invitation, that I didn't want to leave my GF all alone on her birthday etc. He checked again... and he came back with the message that he would be able to arrange something for her.
And so it came that in the end the three of us were off to Eindhoven.

And then the big thing... Back-stage!!
Jolanda (from The Company Holland) led Mark and me into the back-stage area and there he was, the big man. Even taller than I thought! I'm 6ft4, but I still had to look up!
We had a wonderful chat with Fish, personal stuff, gigs, hecklers, but mostly about the Freaks mailinglist of course.

About half an hour, 2 photographs and a couple hundred autographs later Fish told us he had to get moving. We went back into the hall, where our friends had nicely conquered some places right at the front.

The show was absolutely magical. This is definitely the best band Fish has ever had! Keith More played some firing solos, without any technical problems, proving that he really *is* a great guitarist. Especially the Cliche-solo, where he even swung his guitar around his neck, while still playing. Another true magician was Mickey Simmonds. He proved the theory that a good keyboard player doesn't need more than a few synths to play well (infamous quote by Fish's former keyboardplayer Foss Paterson) by using only 3 keyboards and a dozen footswitches. Squeaky played, as always, flawless. I couldn't see the bass-player (I even missed his name) from where I was standing, but he also coped well.

Fish was definitely in a good mood this night. Jumping around the stage all the time, talking to the crowd and making jokes between the songs, dancing with a few lucky people during Internal Exile and even given a third, hardly rehearsed encore: Raw Meat, being played live only for the second time this tour.

My girlfriend had the best birthday in her live. It was the first time she saw the big man live (about time, after already 4 Marillion-shows) but she instantly fell in love with him - and the band fell in love with her! During Worm in a Bottle Fish sang the Happy Birthday-part directly to her, while shaking her hand and pointing at her. After the show he also signed her SoE cd with a Happy Birthday wish. Keith More even sang for her and Squeaky Stewart gave her his home-address and promised to send her his "access all areas" when the tour is over.

After the show Mark and I went backstage again for another quick chat with Fish, who had loads of great tour-anecdotes about hecklers and other "nasty" things you meet on tour. I won't go into detail about what stories he told, you'd better try and get to hear that from the man himself sometime!

My girlfriend and I got finally home at 3 in the morning after a *very* long detour (3 of my friends had missed their trains because they kept talking to Fish and the band for too long and I was stupid enough to offer them a lift home.. even if I had to drive all across the counrty for it!! - I guess you start acting a little strange after such a magical night :-))

This has definately been the best ever Fish gig I've seen so far!

 

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