Fish – ‘FishHeads Acoustic Club Tour’
Monday 6th December – Tickets £17.50
The FishHeads Club – Tour 2010
This summer Fish returns to the road in a very different guise after an enforced sabbatical of nearly a year.
At the end of 2008 he completed a gruelling 18 month World tour supporting his latest album “13th Star” and visited a voice specialist after encountering problems on the latter stages.
A growth was found on his vocal chords and a surgical operation was recommended for its removal and to determine whether or not it was something altogether more serious.
The operation was a success and thankfully the cyst that was discovered was benign.
A recovery period of 6 months ensued before he could perform again.
A successful return to the stage last summer was short lived as soon after complications with scar tissue meant yet another operation in December 2009.
The problem was finally resolved and Fish was given a clean bill of health earlier this year and immediately started to make plans for his return to live performances, an area where he has built up a solid reputation as one of the UK’s most consummate and entertaining front men.
“It was an incredibly stressful time for me. The dread of not only losing my voice permanently but also the possibility of dealing with cancer made me totally revaluate my lifestyle. I quit smoking, took up hill walking and going to the gym regularly and rediscovered scuba diving with the local East Lothian dive club. I’d gone to Costa Rica in January on a holiday shortly after the second operation, and found myself trailing behind guys a lot older than me as we hiked up volcanoes and through rain forests. I decided that at 52 I had to get to grips with my life and wake up to the reality that if I wanted to continue doing this then I had to take a different approach ”
Fish recently completed a 96 mile charity hike up the West Highland Way in aid of Cancer Research over 7 days with 17 of his fans who joined him after responding to an offer on his web site www.the-company.com
At the end of the walk Fish performed a short set in his local pub with his long term guitarist Frank Usher as a thank you to the fans who had hiked with him.
It was the first time he had sung on stage for 9 months.
“The walk was a wonderful life changing experience for us all and I would never have been able to have undertaken it a year before. Some days we walked 20 miles and every night we camped in tents under the stars. But all the while I was thinking about the gig at the end.
I don’t think I can remember being as nervous as I was when I stood in front of the crowd at the Tyneside tavern in Haddington. It may have been the home crowd on the home turf but I was very aware of the debut of the voice. It felt like my first gig in 81 all over again.”
He had already decided to take a radical approach to his return to live performances and had discussed his plans with Frank Usher and keyboard player Foss Paterson, both who had served on the “13th Star” tour and had worked with him over the years on various album projects.
In June the trio begin performing as the FishHeads Club playing small venues in the UK.
“I didn’t want to plunge back into the formulaic pattern of write and record the next album and then tour as I wanted to find where my voice was before committing it to recording. My voice is clearer than it ever was but it needs to be built up gradually to find the strength and ranges again.
I didn’t want it to potentially struggle in a full electric band set up and I thought that an acoustic environment would be perfect to put it through the paces.
The space offered by acoustic versions of songs provides room for experimentation and combined with the intimacy of the venues we are playing there is great scope for dynamic and dramatic expression.”
Both Frank Usher and Foss Paterson are expert at this style of performance both having been in the late and great John Martyn’s band line ups with Frank acclaimed by John as his favourite ever guitarist.
The sets on the tour will be ever changing with songs being taken from throughout Fish’s long career from both his extensive solo catalogue and from his years with former band Marillion.
“When we were working on the keys of songs for the set list before the fan club convention at Leamington Spa last year it was only Frank, Foss and I playing the tunes. It was while we were playing we realised that some of the most unlikely numbers sounded really strong in the stripped down versions. Even material from my first solo album “Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors”, which is now in it’s 20th anniversary, worked really well in the three piece format and I’m sure those songs will be prominent in the FishHeads set lists”
Stripped down and re examined, the versions are sure to have a radically different approach and combined with Fish’s on stage anecdotes and stand up comedy routines the FishHeads Club outings in these intimate settings promise to be memorable occasions.
He will also be writing new material during the period for his new album “A Feast of Consequences” scheduled for recording later in the year for release in 2011.
“I decided that the FishHeads Club tour would provide a great opportunity to reinvestigate my approach to song writing by starting from bare bones of songs and building on that framework rather than depend on the studio environment and the technology as a base to create. This way we can introduce new material as the tour progresses and discover the structures, dynamics and performances before I take it into the studio environment. I discussed the idea with producer Calum Malcolm who did a great job for me on the “13th Star” album and he is excited about the ideas.
It’s going to be a very loose and flexible project with sporadic gigging interspersed with writing periods rather than huge clumps of dedicated time where writing can get bogged down and touring becomes mundane. This way we should be able to maintain a healthy energy around the album.”
It’s going to be a busy year for Fish as in September he resurrects his acting career with a major role in “Electric Man”, an independent film being shot in Edinburgh with director David Barras for the Strangeboat film company www.strangeboat.com
“I hadn’t been able to commit to any acting projects for a number of years due to extensive touring and the demands of my music career so when David contacted me I thought it was an ideal way to get back into it and at the same time work with genuine enthusiastic film makers and learn a lot more about another independent approach in a creative sphere that I would like to get more involved with in the future either as a script writer or even as a director.
The flexibility offered by the acoustic touring means that I can offer myself out as an actor and be open to other projects outside music.”
One such project that has been ongoing for quite some while is the book “Dear Derek” described as an “autobiography and travelogue” and which he had hoped to have finished this year.
“I started writing the book about a year ago soon after I got married. The substance of the book has a lot to do with relationships and how they have affected my life and shaped who I am today. Ironically while I was writing the marriage disintegrated and my wife left me just after Christmas. As they say in Scotland, my head was full of ‘chocolate frogs’ for quite a while and it’s only in recent weeks that I have been able to resurrect the project. Obviously there are a few extra chapters now! ”
“Dear Derek” will hopefully be finished by the end of the year and be released around the same time as the new studio album “Feast of Consequences”