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Live in Milwaukee, WI, 2008

Review by Gary Hill

I had never seen Fish live before as his jaunts to the states are fairly rare, so I was looking forward to this concert with some definite excitement.

Fish and his crew did not disappoint. I can’t say the same about the sound team.


I read on Fish’s blog that he’s been relying on the on site sound people to handle the duties for his shows. I can’t testify to how that’s worked out at other venues, but for the Milwaukee show it seemed to be a problem. Perhaps Raymond is the guy on duty at Shank Hall (for those who don’t catch that reference, please dig out old Far Side cartoons and you’ll understand).  Fish also reported on his blog that the sound on the stage monitors was great. Well, in the audience (and we tried both dead in front of the stage and in the back of the hall) Fish’s vocals were frequently distorted and the keys had a tendency to either disappear or blast out above everything else. In terms of the vocals, I’d have to say that handling the sound for Fish would not be an easy task. He quickly moves from nearly whispered utterings to screaming intensity. That has to be a nightmare for any sound guy. Add to that the fact that for his music the vocal nuances are often the biggest draw and it makes the whole thing even more intense.


Well, enough about the sound – something over which Fish and company had little control, let’s have a look at the performance. You can’t take a single point off in that department. Fish’s singing was spot on and all the musicians played extremely well. They put on a great show. It’s just a shame the sound wasn’t as good.


For my money a good deal of the show’s charm came from Fish’s wit and stories interspersed. Also the teasing that he did with his band added a lot of character. All of these things combined with the music to make for a show that was entertaining and powerful from a musical level, but also a whole lot more than that. I’d recommend seeing Fish to anyone and everyone who enjoys good music. Truly until you’ve seen him live you’ve not heard him. The experience adds a whole new dimension to the music.


Speaking of the music, the set list seemed pretty evenly divided between the new CD 13th Star and Fish’s final appearance with Marillion, Clutching At Straws. There were a small number of other selections, but for the most part that was the extent of it. For my money Clutching At Straws is one of the best Marillion albums, although, I’d put Misplaced Childhood above it and Script For A Jester’s Tear at about the same level. No matter how it shakes out, though, it was great to hear these songs live. I never got the chance to see Marillion with Fish in the band, so this is as close as I’ll get – and frankly the band pulled off the Marillion songs in style.


13th Star is arguably Fish’s strongest solo release, so it was great to hear those songs performed in the live arena, too. All in all, it was a great show that could have been even better had the sound been better. To all the music fans out there – be sure to catch Fish whenever you can – it’s a one of a kind experience. If you happen to be a sound guy reading this, if you ever run sound for Fish, please put in some extra time getting everything perfect. The music is incredible and deserves an incredible effort on the part of the sound person.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at

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