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Pacific Road, Birkenhead, 25 September 2007

What a night! What a stage presence! What a gig! If I said to you that I would place this performance in my best five gigs of all time, (and I've seen a few!), you would certainly get the idea that both myself and the large and enthusiastic crowd witnessed a night to remember.

The evening started off with the support band Stone Soul River, a three piece who played a more than competent set that reminded me a bit of The Cult in their heyday. They were as well received as any support band can be when you're really waiting for the main act. One word of advice though, lads, turn the bloody volume down! What is it about support bands that they feel the need to completely drown out their musicality by turning it up to eleven?

I've never seen Fish before (to my shame) although I've always been a big fan of both Marillion and Mr Dick's solo output - so I was amazed when the roadies set up the mic stand at the front of the stage. Just how big is this guy? It looked like they were setting up a mobile phone mast!

When the lights went down we were treated to a film show, which, without giving too much away, showed a news clip from every year since 1987 (the year Fish left Marillion) complete with highly amusing comments intimating that each character in the news clip was only doing what they were doing in order to be first in the queue to listen to Fish's newest album.

Then the band were on stage to a huge roar and kicked off with, appropriately enough, Slainte Mhath (This Is The Story So Far) to massive approval. This is the tour for the new album (13th Star) and well-known Fish favourites were interspersed with new songs from the album. These were very well received, and rightfully so, as most of them sounded great, but it was when they launched into the better known stuff that both the band and the crowd really took off.

All the Marillion stuff was taken from the Clutching At Straws album (Fish's last with the band) and there were superb renditions of Warm Wet Circles, Sugar Mice, and White Russian, plus a truly exceptional version of Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors complete with a Fish walkabout in the crowd (he stood next to me for a good thirty seconds which was nice!).

By this time the crowd had gone completely mental and the band themselves looked to be having a great time - you could not have got the grin off Fish's face. They finished up to a fabulous ovation then returned for THREE encores - Cliché, a truly wonderful Incommunicado and The Last Straw.

And that was that. They played for over two hours and gave their all. Fish himself was just the perfect front-man - telling stories and having a laugh with the crowd in between songs, and the band were right on the money, really tight and with long term guitarist Frank Usher at the top of his game.

As a happy and exhausted crowd left the building all you could hear was 'Jesus, what a gig!', 'Bloody hell that was awesome' and - best of all - 'what a fantastic night'.

I couldn't agree more.

Review by Alan Jones

Best of 2007


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