Fish, whose larger than life personality has been so beneficial to prog/symphonic rock has time and again, expressed his love for Malta, ever since his first venture to this island some 20 years ago. He has time and again been struck by our history, our culture and scenery and also family values, though sadly even these are not as strong as they used to be. Thus, MTA’s choice of Fish as the Ambassador for Maltese Tourism was quite deserved, as the guy is very sincere, and he can, indeed, speak his mind. It is also such straight-forward honesty that also makes him stand out in the pop scene and in the arts. Besides, the man, notwithstanding his big workload, can also find time to relax and socialize, as he indeed did at Fat Harry’s Pub on the day the concert was postponed due to inclement weather.
On that night, one could also realise why the man has diversified so much in the music business, notwithstanding the challenges it has been presenting. He is really knowledgeable and seems to be acquainted with all aspects of pop music. Most importantly, he remains a very good live performer, even though he does not reach those high notes so reminiscent of great songs like Lavender, Incommunicado and Garden Party. The concert, meant to be have been held to celebrate World Tourist Day, eventually took place on the following day.
His performance, his fifth one in Malta (if one includes the SAS shows), was an open live performance, and also featured two local bands, Sourberry, an alternative combo and The Cash Band, a Gozitan tribute, who covered many Pink Floyd songs as well as some U2 ones. Fish and his band, who were the headlining act, actually started off the show at around 7 pm. This was due to the fact that they had to fly back to the UK very early on the following day. On a cool, bracing evening, Fish and co. delivered quite well. Nowadays, Fish has adapted his vocal delivery to a degree that he can blend very well with his experienced, well-versed band, which features keyboards player Foss Patterson and guitar player Frank Usher; both artistes have worked with John Martyn, another notable Scottish songwriter for many years. The other musicians, namely Gavin Dickie on bass, Gavin Griffiths on drums and Chris Johnson on guitars also co-ordinated the whole show effortlessly. Fish wasn’t at his very best and this wasn’t his best ever Maltese concert, --that honour belongs, arguably to his Classic Rock Concert performance at Manoel Island, which was held four years ago. However, there was still much to fathom in Square Go, So Fellini, the melodramatic Arc Of The Curve and Dark Star, songs that time and again have been cited as being among the very best from his solo album releases. Frank Usher’s pyrotechnics on Dark Star even compelled Fish to state that 'the man had taken over the band!' He was strident and confident, oozing his long experience with easy and dexterity. Cliché also featured more fine, at times, improvised rock guitar playing. Frank could indeed easily fit in as a second guitarist for Jack Bruce’s solo project. I believe Fish, himself full of respect for the man, would approve. Cliché was another case of great guitar playing, well-toned vocal delivery and well-paced instrumentation.
The gig, which lasted some 70 minutes, ended with Incommunicado and apparently, there was no time for encores. Time was definitely not on Fish’s side. It will take time to see whether the man will find the time to come here and deliver another concert. Yet, for the time being, his many commitments, including writing his own semi-biography should keep him very occupied. www.the-company.com