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Fish - Return to Childhood CD (album) cover

RETURN TO CHILDHOOD

Fish

 

Neo-Prog

3.13 | 42 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Forgotten Son
3 stars I noticed that this DVD has yet to be reviewed and, as I was watching it earlier today I though "what the hell" and took some brief notes while watching.

I'll present this review in a track-by-track format that, from experience, is quite difficult to pull off successfully, however, as it's a live performance I'll make an exception.

The concert starts with an old solo classic, 'Big Wedge'. This is a track that really sets the standard for the rest of the first half of the DVD as it's much better than the studio version and a fair bit better than any of the versions I've heard on other live albums. As well as being even more energetic and "rocky" there is a darker edge to this live performance not really felt in the original version. Fish sings this track almost perfectly and Frank Usher adds some nice guitar fills to really make things come alive.

The next track is one of the better tracks from Fish's latest studio album, 'Moving Targets' from 'Field of Crows'. Unsurprisingly, as this song was recorded just 1 year ago, Fish has little trouble with the vocals, though he doesn't really add much to this live performance, in fact it remains pretty much the same as the original, at least up until the addition of an fantastic eery guitar solo from Frank Usher.

The band then stop to catch their breath and Fish tells a few jokes, including the threat to Dutch dwarves from bursting dykes (It would seem that Fish falls quite a way away from the political correctness camp). They then launch into the next song, 'Brother 52', which maintains the upbeat pace established by the first two. It's a good live version, though it is a little less energetic than the performance on the excellent 'Sunsets On Empire - Live in Poland 1997' DVD. This is then followed by another brief breather for the band and a few more jokes from Fish before they start the next song which, as Fish puts it, "Has nothing to do with what I was just talking about."

The same things said about 'Brother 52' apply in equal measure to this version of 'Goldfish & Clowns', it's a damn fine performance overall, despite a few minor quibbles with Fish's voice. Again Frank Usher offers one of his better solos from this paticular concert.

'Raingod's Dancing' is one of my favourite solo Fish songs and this live rendition doesn't dissapoint, Fish sings it very well, despite it containing some of the highest notes from his more recent material and there is some excellent crowd participation towards the end, though I think this track would have benefited from the crowd singing along more throughout the whole song. One minor annoyance for me is that Frank Usher seems to flounder a bit when he takes the solo, not helped by his heavy use of fuzzy distortion. It seems that on this solo (and other parts of this DVD that will discussed later in this review) he can barely keep the distortion under control.

'Wake Up Call (Make it Happen)' is a track that, just as on the studio album, seems totally out of place. I never liked it much as a song and there is little on this DVD that changes my opinion of that, it really just serves to disrupt the flow of the show.

'Innocent Party', another track from Fish's 2005 studio album 'Field of Crows', gets the show back into it's up tempo rhythm. It's played well with an excellent contribution from the wonderful backing vocalist Deborah Ffrench (that's two 'f's).

'Long Cold Day' is a track that I wasn't previously much aware of ('Fellini Days' being the only one of Fish's solo albums I don't yet own) but this is a great rocker with a brilliant laid back (yet not out of place) outro which brings to mind the outro of 'That Time of the Night' from Marillion's 'Live in Loreley' DVD.

Next up is 'Credo'. I had great expectations for this song, but to be honest I'm rather disappointed. It just serves to highlight Fish's deteriorating (at least when it comes to singing old material) voice as he consistently struggles to hit the high notes in the chorus. This track is further marred by a truly awful Frank Usher solo which sounds like he's playing in a totally different key to the rest of the band for a good portion of it. This is a real shame as this performance is definately not lacking in energy and it's a very good song, but between Fish's strained vocals and Usher's sloppy lead playing I find it extremely difficult to enjoy this particular version. Things do pick up a bit towards the end while the members of the band jam and announce each other before, one by one, taking leave of the stage for a brief intermission. Personally I think this was a really good idea as it allows some of the lesser known members of the band to demonstrate exactly how skilled and essential they are, particularly drummer John Tonks and bassist Steve Vantsis.

The second hald of the DVD is made up of, what no doubt most of the audience came to see, and indeed what the whole tour was for, the performance of the entire of the 1985 Marillion album 'Misplaced Childhood'. On the whole this is a fantastic rendition of a great album. I was expecting (particularly after 'Credo') Fish to really struggle with some of the vocals, I was pleasantly surprised, however, as, despite the odd wobble he performs excellently, not relying on the backing vocals nearly as much as he did on his performance of the album on 'Fool's Company' DVD. My only real criticism of this performance is again Frank Usher. He seems to alterante between being the strongest and weakest link of the band. His solo on 'Kayleigh' and the second 'Bitter Suite' solo are both fantastic, but his playing on 'Lavender', for example, lets the song down a bit, I'm not sure whether he was having a bad night (when I saw him in Nottingham on the same tour he was consistentky great) or whether it was a technical malfunction but some of his lead playing sounds really weak or overly distorted.

The show then ends with a bang, with three great encores. 'Incommunicado', which I don't usually care for that much, is played extremely well, adding much to the studio version. The high energy performance is continued by a fantastic rendition of another great keyboard driven Marillion classic, 'Market Square Heroes' which again gives the band chance to announce each other and have a brief period in the spotlight. The final encore is the fan favourite, 'Fugazi'. It's a good performance but I'm a little surprised by it's placement as it's quite a slow burner and would probably have benefited the show more if it were played before 'Incommincado' and 'Market Square Heroes' (the latter used to end the majority of early Marillion concerts when Fish was in the band). Nevertheless it's a gerat song and very well performed.

The DVD also features a bonus interview conducted by John Hotten of 'Classic Rock' magazine, which, though informative, was nothing really new to me as I had already read it (along with contributions from current Marillion members) in a copy of 'Classic Rock'.

This is quite a difficult DVD to rate as, though I found it, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyable (at over 3 hours I certainly got my moneys worth), it really doesn't add a huge amount to previous Fish releases. The track list is pretty similar (I would have liked to ahev seen at least on track from Suits make for example) to the most recent DVDs, particularly 'Fool's Company' which also contained a more diverse array of Marillion tracks and the previously mentioned 'Sunets On Empire - Live in Poland 1997' is generally a more energetic performance. Because of this and a few issues with Fish's voice and Frank Usher's guitar playing I'll give this DVD 3 1/2 stars and round it down to 3, very good, but not really essential.

Forgotten Son | 3/5 |

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