Fish – O2 Academy, Newcastle, April 9th 2016
So this time it really is a ‘Farewell to Childhood’. I thought last December’s show at the ABC in Glasgow was going to be the final time I got to hear Misplaced Childhood in its entirety but a combination of Fish falling ill and his keyboardist breaking an arm meant rescheduled dates from the last tour threw up the opportunity of the Newcastle gig. The temptation was too much, i couldn’t say no. I was looking back through the years trying to calculate how many times I’ve heard all of Childhood live and I reckon this is either the 7 or 8th time through the Marillion and Fish years, including one that was almost a demo version before the album was released although I think it was just side 1 they played that night. I have a bootleg somewhere and a number of songs have different lyrics.
Fish was on stage sharp at 8 which nearly caught me by surprise. I was expecting an 8.30/9 start and literally got my spot as the lights went down. There are a few starters to get through before the main course. Never one to take the easy route we have Pipeline, Feast of Consequences, Family Business, The Perception of Johnny Punter dealing with diverse subjects as the Second World War, domestic abuse and Kosovo among them. It’s fair to say Fish struggled a bit with his voice. He had problems hitting the high notes and a bit of coughing and spluttering between songs pointed towards the onset of a cold. It was also a strangely subdued Newcastle audience. Maybe the opening selection of songs could have been angled more towards the better known Fish/Marillion material. I’m guessing the casual Fish fan isn’t as familiar with the solo material. I’d already heard these songs at Dalkeith and Glasgow last year and would have liked to have heard something different but I wasn’t here for those. Fish introduced the main event commenting on the shine from the follicle challenged in the crowd saying it made a great lighting effect.
We are all maybe a little older but the 30 years that have passed has not diminished the majesty of Childhood. It still sounds as great today as it did on its first listen and in many ways it sounds even better. It’s an album that means so much to so many. I was 20 when it was released and I guess I was leaving my own childhood behind although the child in me is never far away from the surface. It’s an album that, like Fish explained beforehand, holds so many memories. I’ve waxed lyrical about the album before but it is a stunning musical masterpiece and if you have never heard it what are you waiting for? There are sing-alongs a plenty and finally the Newcastle crowd found their voice. Lavender brings the goosebumps, Heart of Lothian brings the passion, Blind Curve brings the complicated hand clapping that is clearly beyond some people before we head for home with Childhoods End and White Feather. It’s all over far too soon and I’d happily have flipped it back over to side one and started again.
The band return for a rousing encore of Market Square Heroes and its mid section had some hand clappers just giving up as it all got just too difficult. We’re finally sent home with The Company ringing in our ears and the site of many portly men (and women) pirouetting like ballerinas. Maybe not quite up there with Glasgow but I’d quite happily go and hear Childhood every night if I could but all good things come to an end, a Childhoods End.
So it’s Farewell to Childhood, thanks for the great memories.