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Fish - Return to Childhood  CD (album) cover

RETURN TO CHILDHOOD

Fish

 

Neo-Prog

3.88 | 41 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 2005, Fish embarked on a highly successful tour supporting the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Marillion album Misplaced Childhood. He decided to capture the event aurally at the 013 in Tilburg and visually in Amsterdam. This is the aural aspect of the tour. Now right from the get go (if you're unfamiliar to Fish's solo works and therefore haven't heard his voice since the Marillion days) you'll notice his voice is much deeper and rougher than when he first performed the album 20 years earlier, so don't expect the same studio performance for Misplaced Childhood. Fish's supporting musicians are dynamic and they really do perform all the material on the album well. Longtime member Frank Usher (guitar) is joined by Andy Trill to add dynamic to the guitar aspect, Steve Vantsis and John Tonks act as the rhythm unit and at moments hit the cohesiveness Trewavas/Mosley, Tony Turrell uses a wide array of keyboards, from organs to synthesizers and his sound is superb, and finally backing vocalist Deborah French was added to help give dynamic to the overall show, the Misplaced Childhood songs in particular.

The show itself is spread out onto two discs, the first being solely Fish's solo material. The overall sound of this show is very modern, very crisp, and everything sounds great, and from the opening feedback notes of Big Wedge you can already hear that. You can also hear the band having a blast while on stage and you can definitely hear it in Fish's voice. Although the solo material is more geared towards his later solo material (Sunsets on Empire, Raingods With Zippos, Field of Crows, etc.), two gems from the past are included. The first is Big Wedge, off of Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, and the version here is very good, possibly as good as the studio version, which was a superb track. Of the newer material, the two Raingods with Zippos songs, Raingods Dancing and Wake Up Call is probably my favorite here, because the overall sound is more lush and dynamic than the studio version (of which Plague of Ghosts was a great epic). The first set ends with a ripping version of Credo, in which the band really get into a groove and towards the end, individuals from the band leave the stage at different times and soon the stage is empty, ending the first set.

The second disc of the show is comprised solely of Marillion songs. Opening with La Gazza Ladra , the second set opens with a much spacier sounding Pseudo Silk Kimono. From the get go, you'll notice that the Misplaced Childhood songs aren't played in the same key as they were when Marillion toured the album, and this could because Fish's voice has changed considerably and he isn't able to hit those kind of notes. The dual guitars, though, seem to get the job done (although I'd prefer Rothery to both Usher and Trill, who don't play as emotionally as him). The version of Blind Curve here is more dynamic during the Perimeter Walk section, and thus results is the longest version of the song I've seen (running at 13 minutes). This is the same case with Bitter Suite. In all, Misplaced Childhood is performed wonderfully, but I don't think it's as good as the live Marillion versions. After Misplaced Childhood finishes a few more Marillion staples are played. The first is a ripping version of Incommunicado, which has some great synthesizers from Turrell, whose sound on this album is superb. Next is Market Square Heroes, which gets a fairly faithful rendition and some more is added into the middle section. The show ends with a great version of Fugazi, which although vocally draining for Fish (because there are a lot of lyrics for the song), is played pretty faithfully and the, "Where are the Prophets?" section is especially biting this time around. In all, the Marillion songs are very well played, but nothing can really compare to Marillion playing Marillion songs.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Return to Childhood live album. It was refreshing to hear Fish perform such a great album in its entirety all over again since we'll never hear Marillion perform it all again. My complaints do come at this, though, most of the Marillion songs are played in different keys than their original versions, so they don't sound exactly the same sonically, but they are still played wonderfully, and you can sometimes hear Fish straining his voice and his vocals can be hard to understand at times. Other than that, though, if you're looking for a Fish live album, this may be the one to get (if you can take Frank Usher butchering some solos during Misplaced Childhood). Granted it's not perfect, but there is a magic about it that any fan of Marillion and neo prog in general will enjoy. 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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