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2 stars Fish has been very prolific in terms of live albums.

When an artist releases almost double as many live works than studio counterparts, some of the former ones can only be duplicates or less interesting recordings.

And it is the case of this "Krakow Electric" concert. If you compare it with his previous live one (In Utrecht), there are obvious lack of complicity between the crowd and the big man. But he is at home in The Netherlands (still today). The positive side of this of course, is that we have less karaoke sessions during the set.

This concert was part of the "Yin & Yang" tour. These two albums were re-recordings of existing Fish and genuine "Marillion" songs. Just prior to this, Fish did release a full original studio work ("Suits") from which several songs are taken and to complete the set a couple of oldies are also included.

What I'm missing here is the passion usually felt during his concerts. There are little enchantment here. "Black Canal", "The Emperor's Song" clearly highlight this.

Some songs save the album, like the wonderful "Lady Let It Die" as well as "Vigil". Most of the genuine "Marillion" songs are not really well performed. Except the emotive and extended "Lavender". And what to say about the fifteen minutes version of "Lucky" (including the band presentation)? Pointless, I guess. And the medley is not memorable either (over twelve minutes).

It is only a recording for die-hard Fish's fans. As such, two stars.

Report this review (#166426)
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Several veteran acts of the 1980s wave of British neo-prog benefitted in the mid-1990s from the fact that even though their popularity might have waned in the UK itself, they had gained a passionate following in Europe. This was no doubt helped by the fall of the Iron Curtain making touring in Eastern Europe substantially easier. Poland would seem to become a hub, with Pendragon practically making it a second home and Fish undertaking a seven date Polish tour in 1995.

Fish and Marillion may well have sown some of the seeds of this later flowering back in the Cold War days; in the liner notes to Krakow, this 2CD release of a concert from the tour, Fish talks about how a visit in 1987 saw them becoming a little entangled with the then-burgeoning Solidarity opposition movement (an echo, perhaps, of how Van Der Graaf Generator found themselves embraced by Communists and reviled by Fascists in 1970s Italy), and saw him forging some of the professional and personal connections which would later make that tour possible.

In principle, the Poland dates were as part of the larger "Yin and Yang" tour, in support of that pair of quasi- compilations. (I say "quasi" because despite containing old material, most of the songs on there are re-recordings or alternate takes - but Fish calls them compilations, so I'll go along with that.) In practice, Fish's newest proper album at this stage was Suits, so you can sort of see this as a mature stage of the Suits tour, with the band having toured that for over a year at this point the material is well bedded-in.

Certainly, the best picks from Suits are well-placed here. I particularly like the way Black Canal and Jumpsuit City from that album are woven together with Big Wedge from Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors in order to produce a sort of triptych about ever-spiralling corruption.

There's some Marillion material in the setlist - but that's fair enough, Marillion were still including Fish-era songs in their sets at this time. However, the Marillion songs account for some five songs of a set of 17 (and two of those - Fugazi and Slainte Mhath - are worked into a medley and so not played in full), so Fish's solo material is very much now the focus here. In keeping with that, the setlist is very front-loaded with Fish solo songs - he doesn't dip into the Marillion songbook until towards the end of the first disc.

The album is sourced from good-quality 24 track tapes; they don't pick up that much in the way of audience noise except between the songs, which does have the downside of making it sound like the gig isn't being that passionately received, but when you do hear the crowd they do seem happy. At points there seems to be issues with feedback, or Fish's vocals sounding somewhat echoey, or the sound mix simply blowing out the levels, so this isn't exactly a pristine live album, but it's certainly a loud and enthusiastic one. It's also a little disappointing that what is clearly intended as a transition from Slainte Mhath into Credo is split over the two discs. Nonetheless, it's a great little set, but due to these issues far from perfect.

Report this review (#2649850)
Posted Sunday, December 5, 2021 | Review Permalink

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