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Fish - Communion CD (album) cover





4.21 | 25 ratings

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4 stars Although I'm a huge Fish fan and love his concerts I've been disappointed by some of the live recordings over the years, with Sushi a notable exception because of its great atmosphere, truly conveying the curve of a fine gig.With this in mind I was a bit wary of this album but in fact it's an absolute gem.

Recorded in St Mary's Church in Fish's home town of Haddington as part of the 2006 fan club convention, the first thing to say is that the sound quality is excellent on account of the great acoustics in the church and a top recording by Calum Malcolm. This was an acoustic/semi-acoustic gig with the regular band augmented by Dave Haswell on percussion and Angela Gordon, Anne- Marie Helder and Heather Findlay on bv's. Angela Gordon also plays flute.

The packaging is good quality and Fish's sleeve notes tell the tale of the gig. At the time of writing he was engaged to Heather Findlay and the notes reflect his then excitement at the planned wedding- the split from Heather has been documented elsewhere.

Anyway -the music.The setlist is radically different from most Fish live shows and while some songs may not be amongst the faves in his catalogue, the chance to hear them recorded live is another reason to buy this. 'The Field' opens wonderfully- building in layers and ending powerfully and with the backing vocals providing an almost gospel choir ending.'Jumpsuit City' is superb when compared with the dull version on Suits. It's worth noting that Fish's voice works really well on this album- and he's in tune and comfortable not straining to overcome the ropey PA he often has to deal with on full electric gigs.

The next highlight is 'State of Mind' - a really tight band creating plenty of tension. 'Tilted Cross' (from 'Raingods with Zippos') desrves a mention as its one of the most mature songs he's done an dthe version here is very close to the album version.

If you're waiting for the usual between-songs banter from Fish on here then you will be disappointed as there is none other than band credits. The album gets a touch bogged down in slow songs with 'Fortunes of War' probably fine if you were there in the 'special' atmosphere but perhaps one slow one too many on the recording. ' Just good Friends ' is performed with an excellent Heather Findlay and she also duets on ' Incomplete'.

Further live rarities are marked with a remarkable 'Gentleman's Excuse Me'- just Fish with Tony Turrell on piano playing the songwith a new positive approach.

The pace really changes with an excellent 'Lost Plot' (from 'Field of Crows') which segues into the best 'Slainte Mhath' I have heard- the power achieved on this version is incredible for a semi-acoustic arrangement and is worthy of the purchase price alone. The other ex-Marillion song is 'Chelsea Monday' , which, as Fish admits in the notes,could have been better.

The main set closes with 'Scattering Crows' which runs 'Slainte' a close second for sheer power. The encores are 'Tara', with Fish's daughter joining on backing vocals on the song he wrote for her in 1997, and a fine 'Raw Meat'.

I will not give 5 stars as the slow songs are perhaps a bit dominant overall, but a setlist as rare as this is worthy of the attention of anyone remotely interested in Fish, the sound is fantastic, it's great to hear Fish sing so well and 'Slainte ' is truly to die for. So if 'Fellini Nights' etc made you think twice about buying further Fish live releases, just give this one a go -and wait for soon-to- be-released '13th Star' (the new studio album) , which from demos played on his radio show sounds like it really could be, as Fish has suggested, his best album to date.

oldcrow | 4/5 |


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