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Fish, O2 ABC Glasgow

johnny main
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid
29th December 2017


Fish's new album, 'Weltschmerz', announced as his final studio album, was originally scheduled for release last month before he geared up for the start of his retirement tour which was originally supposed to begin in 2018.

Things didn't go to plan however as Fish himself explained hanging his head before telling the sold out Glasgow audience "New album? I'll not lie - done fuck all!" with a wry smile.

As he explained, the current tour was supposed to showcase elements from 'Weltschmerz' along with a complete run through of his final Marillion album, 'Clutching At Straws' on its 30th anniversary, and it didn't take long for these shows to start selling out once they were announced.

Obviously the 'Weltschmerz' tracks were dropped but this gave Fish an opportunity to look at his impressive solo back catalogue and pull out some older songs that haven't been performed for a while.


Fish performed 'Misplaced Childhood', Marillion's most commercially successful album, in its entirety on the anniversary in 2015, and released the CD/DVD 'Farewell to Childhood Live in Europe 2015-16' from the sold out tour.

It made sense to revisit 'Clutching At Straws', the group's second most successful album too, especially because it contains some truly great tracks.

This show had all the hallmarks of being a very special, not to be missed event, and I wasn't disappointed.

Diving straight into the 'Clutching At Straws' material, the biggest cheers were, as you'd expect, for the singles 'Warm Wet Circles', the exquisite 'Sugar Mice', which was quietly dedicated to his daughter Taz, and a rollicking version of 'Incommunicado' which sent an electric current though the audience as the venue suddenly burst into life.


Other highlights included 'That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)', 'Going Under' a song he's never performed live before this tour and 'Slàinte Mhath' which I've always had a soft spot for.

During the latter, someone threw up a Saltire which adorned Fish's microphone stand for a short while before the Big Man draped it around his shoulders showing he still feels something of an internal exile in his native land.


At nearly sixty years of age, Fish's singing voice remains strong, with him only occasionally struggling to hit the high notes but in between songs he's still happy to chat and joke with the audience.

Feeling his age, he occasionally took a seat (brought from his own kitchen, he explained) during the set but the Big Man retains his powerful stage presence at all times.

His current band, featuring Robin Boult on guitar, Steve Vantsis on bass guitar, keyboard player John Beck (previously of It Bites) and Gavin Griffiths on drums are a gifted group who, along with the excellent backing vocals of the criminally under-used Doris Brendel, are a real force to be reckoned with as they didn't put a foot wrong all evening.


Bookending the Marillion material were a handful of Fish solo tracks from set opener, 'The 'Voyeur (I Like to Watch)' and 'State of Mind' taken from his 1990 debut release, 'Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors'.

There was also 'Circle Line', written about travelling on the Circle Line on the London Underground, from 2007's '13th Star' album and a duo of tracks taken from 2013's 'A Feast Of Consequences'; 'Perfume River' and 'The Great Unravelling' which closed the show in supreme fashion.

It promised to be a special night, and it was – I've seen Fish live a lot over the past twenty-five years, and if I never see him live again, this show will live long in my memory.


Fish Set List:
The Voyeur (I Like to Watch)
Emperor's Song
Circle Line
State of Mind
Hotel Hobbies
Warm Wet Circles
That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
Just for the Record
Torch Song
Slàinte Mhath
Going Under
Sugar Mice
White Russian
The Last Straw
Tux On
Perfume River
The Great Unravelling


Fish's band:
Fish – Vocals
Robin Boult – Guitars/Vocals
Steve Vantsis – Bass Guitar/Vocals
John Beck – Keyboards
Gavin Griffiths – Drums
Doris Brendel – Backing Vocals

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