Clutching at Stars


2 Jul 2008, 16:07

Gone Fishin' at Toad's Place

I have not seen the big man play live since he left Marillion all those years ago. Don't know if he has been on this side of the pond that often. I followed his solo work a little and enjoyed Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors and Internal Exile, but Suits was the last one I had bought and I lost contact for a good long while. I had kept those CDs in the rotation, but had moved on to other bands and other styles of music for the next few years. I also had some of his live stuff that kept in play and my Fish fix happy whenever I needed it.

So when a friend introduced me to Porcupine Tree, I started going back to my prog rock roots and listened to the old man again. Looking at some of his other CDs, I discovered that Steven Wilson was all over Sunsets on Empire. I had to have that. I also snagged 13th Star and Field of Crows at the same time.

I found 13th Star to be my favorite of the three and then I heard he was touring the U.S. I had to go! And I did. I missed the meet and greet as there was no publicity about it that I had seen. Nothing in the papers or links from Toad's Place and I was not involved with the forums so I didn't know. Oh well.

I got to Toad's early and found about 6 people in line. Doors were at 8pm and I had hoped the show would start soon after. Boy was I wrong. There was also an unpublished openinig band, just to make the night start longer. They were actually pretty good and I picked up their CD, Bushwhack for all of $5.

The crowd started to thicken, but not more than 200 people I would bet. There was even a side for the under 21 crowd, but I think they were all there for their friends in the opening band. Fish openend up with Slainte Mhath and got all of us singing along quickly and earnestly. I did not expect to hear anything from his early years, so this was going to be a surprising night.
The next songs were all from 13th Star - Circle Line, Square Go and Open Water and sounded great live. Most of the crowd knew the choruses and sang along whole heartedly. He then switched to So Fellini, which I did not know and seemed an odd fit for the set at this point, but I don't know the song so I may have missed some thematic connection. Dark Star brought me back into the fold and then I was blown away by what happened next.

We went back to Clutching At Straws for Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles and That Time of the Night. I was amazed and sang my lungs out. His band sounded great through these tracks and made some changes in things to make it their own. Amazing! So cool and so much fun.

He also played Arc Of The Curve and Manchmal from 13th Star. Arc is my favorite from the disc. Faith Healer was especially fun as jumped from the stage and laid hands on people around the floor. Cliche was also busted out at the end as well as Incommunicado and White Russian as part of the double encore.

We all wanted more, but it was late and well after bedtime for all of us old prog rockers. It was a great show, Fish told some hysterical stories as a way to introduce many of his songs. Talked about wandering around New Haven, smashing porcelain lawn fairies and he clearly knows how to work a crowd and showed no disappointment about how few of us there were in the place.
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