February 20th, 2004
The Hub, Dublin, Ireland

By Kevin Murphy

Recent articles in the music (and indeed, mainstream) press would have us believe that progressive rock is going through something of a renaissance at the moment. If tonight's shameful turnout at The Hub is anything to go by, then this news clearly hasn't reached Dublin yet. Then again, prog never has been that popular here due in large part to the indifference and, at times, downright hostility from a trend-driven Irish music press.

Fish informed us early on that the promoter wanted to pull the gig at the last minute due to the poor ticket sales. He mentioned that had he played Belfast (which was sold out) and not Dublin, he would have felt very guilty about it. Many a lesser artist might have thrown a strop, and given a below par performance. Fish, being the trooper that he is, gave 110%, as did his excellent six-piece backing band.

Those of us lucky enough to be there were treated to what could, even at this early stage, be a candidate for gig of the year. Not having seen Fish on stage since the halcyon days of the Misplaced Childhood tour, I had forgotten what a consummate performer he is. The intensity, the passion, the great sense of humour and the eye contact - when Fish locks stares with you, it's riveting, scary even. You get the feeling that he has singled you out to impart his worldview onto you, and that you daren't look away. This was only emphasised in the intimate club-like surroundings of The Hub.

While the opener, The Rookie seemed a bit low key, the band really hit their stride with The Perception of Johnny Punter and Jungle Ride, and when Fish held up his hand for silence during one of the quieter sections, he had our undivided attention and never lost it. The in between song banter was hilarious, Fish taking the mickey out of band and audience alike - all in the best possible taste of course. Naturally there had to be one eejit who wanted to hear Kayleigh, though be fair to Fish, he laughed off this request, and politely declined to play said song.

Although the set mainly consisted of material from the new Field of Crows album - the aforementioned Rookie, Zoo Class, Innocent Party, Lost Plot, Old Crow, Moving Target (one of the highlights), Fish didn't forget to include some great oldies. Vigil and Cliché were warmly welcomed. Cliché in particular was a tour de force with Frank Usher's incredible Gilmour-esque solo being one of the evening's many highlights.

But the personal highlight of the night for me was getting to the very front of the stage for the encore - a truly powerful medley featuring So Fellini, Lucky, Internal Exile, Market Square Heroes and The Company. Easy enough with such a small crowd, but something I haven't done since a Stiff Little Fingers gig about twelve years ago, and probably ridiculous behaviour for a man rapidly approaching 40. When Fish got to the 'golden handshake...' bit in Market Square Heroes, he reached out, grabbed my up-thrust hand and shook it with a huge grin on his face. A magic moment for me, and one of the best in over 25 years of gig going. Thanks Fish!!


The Rookie
Moving Targets
Jungle Ride
Perception of Johnny Punter
Lost Plot
Zoo Class
Old Crow
Innocent Party
Raingods Dancing
Wake-up Call (Make It Happen)

So Fellini
Internal Exile
Market Square Heroes
The Company

(Photos by Bart Jan van der Vorst for DPRP ©2004)


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