Undaunted by the snowy weather we set off to Leamington Spa not knowing for sure if the gig was going to go ahead? Two hardy souls were already queuing outside The Assembly as we walked past some three hours before the doors were due to open. We made for the nearest pub and had a warm up watching the Manchester derby football match on the tv. This was also notable as I had my first pints of beer since September 15th, which as you would expect went down rather well.. We made our way back up to the venue with half an hour to go before the doors opened and low and behold it was still the same two hardy souls in the queue. Apparently they were saying on Twitter there was some dispute about whether the gig should be cancelled. Certainly there would be those who couldn't make it, but then again the band had managed to get down from Manchester the previous night. It's a tricky one but I think it was right to go ahead as many had made the effort to be there.
First up was Doris Brendel with her band of Prog and Pop rock with a bit of a 'Steampunk' theme going on. She has been described as the modern day 'Janis Joplin.' Her father Alfred Brendel is an Austrian pianist, poet and author, known particularly for his performances of Mozart, Schubert and especially Beethoven. They were fine and got a good reception from an ever increasing crowd but I don't think I will be putting their CD on my Christmas list.It wasn't the last we would see of Doris though as she was providing backing vocals for Fish too.
Fish has returned to UK stages to debut his new studio album ‘Weltschmerz’ together with a final full 30th anniversary performance of ‘Clutching at Straws’, his last album with ‘Marillion’.
‘Weltschmerz’ was coined by the 18th Century German writer Jean Paul to describe a ‘feeling of apathy caused by the sadness about life when seeing the evils of the world.’
Clutching at Straws was the fourth Marillion studio album( 1987) and the last with Fish before he quit the following year. A concept album that is dark in places exploring the principle characters relationship with the demon drink and a life going off the rails."The concept was maybe too close to home," he wrote in the liner notes for the album's 1999 re-release. Very different from the much more commercial sound of 'Misplaced Childhood' many see this as Marillion's finest hour.
Fish welcomed and thanked the audience for their efforts in getting to the show in such awful conditions. He quipped ' When people have said in the past there is snow at the gig it meant something else entirely'. He spoke briefly about his unhealthy relationship with Cocaine back in the day and his over familiarity with alcohol. The first four songs are are all from his solo albums, '13th Star, 'Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors' and 'Suits' .
We are then treated to 'Clutching at Straws' in it's entirety. Some of the songs have never been played in over thirty years and rarely heard live. We kick off with 'Hotel Hobbies' depicting life on the road and the temptations that go with such an existence. 'Hotel hobbies padding dawns hollow corridors. Bell boys checking out the hookers in the bar. Slug-like fingers trace the star-spangled clouds of cocaine on the mirror. The short straw took its bow'.
This is followed by 'Warm Wet Circles' which was the third single released from the album. Possibly the best know track from the album is 'Incommunicado' which reached number 6 in the UK charts in 1987 and still gets some radio play today on stations such as Planet Rock.
By now Fish has started to deal with a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc , something clearly well practised. £5.99 from Majestic he informs the crowd. Much cheaper than the twenty quid they were asking at that posh Italian place over the road. He is on good form waxing lyrical and his chief target tonight is 'Donald Trump' . 'How embarrassing is it that is mother is Scottish he asks'?
It is great to hear 'Clutching at Straws' for one more time and nobody who has made the effort will leave disappointed i'm sure.
We get one final song from the era 'Tux On' during the first encore, which has always been a favourite of mine. The final two songs are from 'A Feast of Consequences' and wrap up a superb night.
|Guitarist Robin Boult|
Full 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
- Slainte Mhath
- Going Under
- Sugar Mice
- White Russian
- The Last Straw
- Tux On
- Perfume River
- The Great Unravelling