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Fish - Fool's Company CD (album) cover





4.09 | 16 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 2002, Fish decided that his annual fanclub convention should be different than the previous years. First off, he changed locations, from Scotland to Holland, and secondly the entire format of the two nights were changed. Instead of the usual acoustic night and electric night, Fish wanted to relive the past and unveil some ghosts from the vault of Marillion songs, so the first night was comprised of only Marillion material. The second night comprised solely of solo material (except for Misplaced Childhood, which replaced the epic Plague of Ghosts, which wasn't played for lack of preparation). When coupled with the Mixed Company live album, both nights are represented in their entirety (although only one rendition of Misplaced Childhood is featured).

The first DVD, aptly titled Night of the Jester, is comprised of solely Marillion material. It opens with the fan favorite Script for a Jester's Tear. From the get go you can hear a band that's a bit rusty, but is doing everything in their power to get everything as right as possible. Although Script is a bit rough, they seem to lock in towards the end and really hit home during the outro. Misplaced Childhood is played next, this would act as a precursor to Fish's Return to Childhood opus and tour. All the songs are executed well and there's a nice sense of cohesion between the group. The second half of the album, beginning with Waterhole, particularly strong, with the band firing on all cylinders to try and replicate the classic Marillion album as best as they can. The third piece of the DVD is the anthemic Torch Song, with an extended middle section where Fish talks a bit with the crowd. It segues directly into its companion piece, Slainte Mhath. Although not as strong as previous versions, it has a bite to it and the guitars are particularly raw here. The two concluding pieces of the album are Forgotten Sons and Fugazi, the closing tracks to the first two Marillion albums. Forgotten Sons is particularly strong here, with great interplay between Marter and Vantsis. Songs not included on this DVD but are featured on the live album Mixed Company are Incubus, Garden Party, and Market Square Heroes.

The second DVD, titled Night of the Company, is comprised of solo material mainly focusing on the first two albums Vigil and Internal Exile. It opens with the title track to Vigil. Although Fish mixes up the lyrics at certain points of the song, it's well executed and Frank Usher and Robin Boult have some great interplay. Just Good Friends has some soft female vocals from the backing vocalists Zoe Nicholas and Susie Webb, who both offer a nice counterpoint to Fish's jagged vocals on both DVDs. The next two tracks are from more recent Fish albums, in 3D from Fellini Days and Rites of Passage from Raingods With Zippos. Both are extremely well played, and Fish's emotive performance on Rites of Passage is a tear jerker (in the interview on the disc he even mentions how it was hard for him to hold the tears back). The special treat of the DVD lies in the next track, State of Mind. Focus fans rejoice as Jan Akkerman takes the stage on this song and provides great rhythm and lead acoustic guitar work along with Robin Boult and Frank Usher (who plays a quiet volume swelled rhythm). The 13 minutes go by quickly, as the brilliance of Akkerman comes to a head towards the very end. Magical indeed. The final two songs that are on this DVD are the wordy Shadowplay, wordy enough that Fish had to peek at the lyrics many times just to know where he was in the song (although musically it's solid), and the anthemic finale of Raw Meat from the ill-fated Suits album (it was always the best song on it anyway).

Overall, this is probably the most fulfilling Fish DVD available in my opinion. Both sides of Fish are explored quite well and if you couple it with the Mixed Company album you have some of the best songs from both the Marillion and solo years. It's a shame, though, that Incubus wasn't featured on the DVD, as there are very few video performances of that song. Other than that, there's not that much I can fault this collection with. I highly recommend it to Marillion and Fish fans, as well as fans of Neo Prog. Be aware, though, that Fish's voice is drastically different than in the past and he can't really reach the high notes anymore. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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