February 20th, 2004
The Hub, Dublin, Ireland
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
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
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!!
Perception of Johnny Punter
Wake-up Call (Make It Happen)
Market Square Heroes
(Photos by Bart Jan van der Vorst for DPRP ©2004)