Gig review: FISH – Craigiehill Fest, Perth, 31 August 2019

Craigie Hill Fest is held annually in the carpark of Craigiehill Golf Course on the outskirts of Perth. I must say it hadn’t featured on my gig radar prior to this year and they have an eclectic mix of musical styles on throughout the day. This year though they drafted in Fish as the headline act so we headed to Perth for an evening of top prog.

Prior to Fish we were entertained with a few choice SKA classics by local band The Rude Boys. The band reformed in 2018 after a 35 year hiatus with five original members including Stuart Campbell-Clark and Eddie Jordan. Playing a set of originals and a selection of SKA staples the band went down a storm with the crowd. Grown men were dancing far too enthusiastically for their own good and there were no doubt a few aching joints the following day.

Tracks like ‘Suzanne Beware Of The Devil’ and the excellent if slightly strange ‘Long Shot Kick Da Bucket’ had the crowd singing and dancing along although the dancing may have been more an attempt to keep warm as the evening turned rather cold rather quickly. This was an entertaining set by a band of excellent musicians who were obviously enjoying their return to the stage.

By the time The Rude Boys left the stage the evening schedule was running well behind time and Fish came on stage 15 minutes prior to the set curfew time! Luckily a couple of extensions were rapidly arranged but the set was still truncated which was a shame. However band and crowd made the most of the time allotted and as the guys kicked off with ‘Big Wedge’ voices were raised as everyone sang along.

Fish was in good voice, although for the first couple of numbers the sound mix put backing vocalist Doris Brendal’s mic to the fore despite numerous attempts to get it right during the soundcheck. Things soon settled down though and the band got into their stride with ‘Brother 52’ complete with some great guitar work from John Mitchell who has been drafted in to cover the summer dates for Robin Boult.

As the evening chill set in things were brought up to date as the guys kicked into newer track ‘Man With A Stick’. This was followed by an excellent version of ‘Just Good Friends’ complete with dual vocals from Doris Brendal which sounded great. Time though was marching on and one eye was on the set list and the other on the clock as the reset curfew loomed so the between song chat was kept to a minimum although it wouldn’t be a Fish gig without a bit of banter every now and again.

‘Feast Of Consequences’ went down well with the crowd whilst ‘Credo’ gave everyone the opportunity to warm up their vocal chords which at that point were the only things that were warm!

‘Pipeline’ gave John Mitchell a chance to cut loose with his ‘Who moment’ as Fish called it on the intro and he played up a storm throughout as did Foss Paterson on the keyboards, no doubt thankful that his set up issues prior to the gig were long forgotten. By this time the curfew was looming large and unfortunately the set had to be curtailed (no time for ‘Vigil’ which was a real shame).

There was time for one more though and as Fish said, it’s funny how songs he wrote 20 odd years ago are now more relevant than ever as the guys launched into ‘Internal Exile’. Again the crowd were in good voice and hands were clapped and feet were stomped as the song reached the climax, although this may have been more to get the circulation moving again in the rapidly numbing feet!

This wasn’t a perfect set due to the timing and technical issues but Fish and the band soldiered on and ended the night on a high. With his new album scheduled for release in 2020 and a tour booked to coincide Fish is as busy as ever. However, if his predictions on the effect of touring in Europe post Brexit come to fruition then, like tonight’s set, things may come to a premature end and his ‘Internal Exile’ may come sooner rather than later!

Review and Photos by Dave Wilson

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