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Fish - Return to Childhood  CD (album) cover





3.89 | 57 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I can hear your heart

It is perhaps ironic that these days, if you wish to hear the music which made Marillion famous, you have to look not to the band themselves, but to their former vocalist. With the band having long since moved on from that era, live renditions of their great early tracks hard to come by to say the least. In fairness, Steve Hogarth's voice and style are somewhat different from that of Mr. Dick, Hogarth's early efforts to deliver the songs (as documented on the "Stoke Row to Ipanema" DVD) were brave but always inferior to the originals.

It is therefore immensely pleasing to find that Fish has managed to set a side any misgivings he may have had about revisiting his past, and presented us with this live album. Here we have a rendition of "Misplaced childhood" in its entirety, together with a handful of other early Marillion tracks and a set of his solo numbers. This is not the first time by any means that an artist has followed such a path, we just have to look to David Gilmour and Roger Waters for precedents. It is though the first time since 1986 that "Misplaced Childhood" has been rediscovered live. The timing of the tour marked the 20th Anniversary of the album adding extra poignancy to the event.

The set, which was recorded in Tillburg, Netherlands in late 2005, is neatly split between the two discs. Disc one focuses on Fish's solo work, most of the tracks coming from his more recent albums. There are two old favourites (especially live) "Big wedge" and "Credo" from his early solo work, which serve to warm up the audience nicely.

It is though when we move to disc 2 though that emotions start to run high. The distinguished intro to "Pseudo silk kimono" (the hairs are standing on the back of my neck just thinking about it now) tells us that the moment has arrived. The instrumental tones and colours may be a bit different at times, but this is the classic album performed in all its glory, and sounding every bit as magnificent as it did over 20 years ago. As with the live audience, we cannot help but sing along as "Kayleigh" becomes "Lavender" and "Bitter suite" becomes "Heart of Lothian". We solemnly recite the obscure Scottish poet's ode to the spider, and pledge that "your carnation will rot in a vase". This is indeed a "Return to childhood" not just for Fish, but for all who went there with him.

The set concludes with a quartet of Marillion favourites, including the legendary "Market square heroes" and closing with the wonderful title track from "Fugazi" recorded in Koln, Germany.

There are of course many live albums available by Fish. The vast majority of these serve to capture the essence of a live gig by him well, but are generally disposable in terms of their musical value. What differentiates "Return to childhood" is that here the music comes first. As such, when it comes to Fish's live catalogue, this album stands head and shoulders above all others.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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