Luck, it seems, is being favourable to Fish for once as his current short run of UK dates has seemingly gone without any serious issues and the tour party bubble has been effective in keeping covid from the door. What this means is that the Leamington Spa show concludes the tour with the final full performance of the ‘Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors’ album; a show that effectively book ends his solo career with a selection of tracks from the recently acclaimed masterpiece ‘Weltschmerz’ making up much of the remainder of the set.
There had been rave reviews of earlier shows, so anticipation was riding high for this special date. The fans had clearly made an effort for this one and around the venue you’d be able to hear a mix of Scottish, Germany and American accents.
‘Grace Of God’ is the impressive first track from Weltschmerz and works well tonight as the opening number as it builds slowly. The crowd hanging on Fish’s lyrics as he sings about someone undergoing a lifesaving operation, presumably mostly autobiographical, before it develops into a much grander song over its’ eight or so minutes. A bombastic ‘Big Wedge’ neatly follows that sees Fish in fine voice and it works well with the additional vocals, particularly those of Doris Brendel.
It’s clear that the set isn’t just a play through of ‘Vigil’, much more thought has gone into how the set will flow, and all the better it is for it. It celebrates the album without it dominating the evening. The brilliant ‘Man With A Stick’ follows; a song that starts with imagery of his aged father, moves through other influences of different sticks throughout life and and transforms into a song about police brutality.
‘Rose Of Damascus’ is reached after a lengthy introduction that ties the story of a Syrian refugee allegorically to the ‘Rose’ that we learn that the rose from the crusades now forms the basis of most European roses. After all, is a rock gig truly a rock gig if you don’t come away afterwards with a little more horticultural enlightenment?
Cliche stands out as one of the highlights of the show with an attentive audience during the quieter sections and a spellbinding guitar solo from John Mitchell on the end section that had more than a touch of Gilmour about it. Probably the best I’ve heard it done live.
The encore starts with ‘A Gentleman’s Excuse Me’ which then flows into a impressive ‘Fugazi’. While he may not spit out the lyrics with the same youthful venom of the early 80’s, the song, and delivery, is no less impressive and again another high point. Arguably the content matter is even more relevant today than ever it was.
There’s still one Vigil track left and there really isn’t a better track that ties Fish together with his fans than ‘The Company’. The crowd, already with sore throats, give one last effort to join the big man in song, and while he may complain about his memory, bad back and getting old, as a performer and artist he is still at the top of his hill. As he slowly winds down his touring, it’s nights like these that will stick in the memory.
1. Grace of God
2. Big Wedge
3. Man With A Stick
4. State of Mind
5. Family Business
7. Rose of Damascus
8. He Knows You Know
10. This Party’s Over
12. View from the Hill
13. A Gentleman’s Excuse Me
15. The Company