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FISH, The Assembly, Leamington Spa
8-9 August 2009

Fish, photo by Andrew Lock

FRIDAY For early arrivals the weekend started with a get together on the Friday evening at The Sausage a popular bar in the town with entertainment by the band Jump and Fish paid a visit to meet some of the fans and have a glass of wine.

SATURDAY The convention started Saturday lunchtime with concert footage both vintage and from the soon to be released DVD on a big screen, followed by a stand-up comedy routine disguised as an introduction and Q and A session with Fish, and as usual he had the crowd in stitches.

Questions and topics he gave his unique insight on included Michael Jackson, favourite gigs and meerkats! I took this opportunity to buy raffle tickets in aid of Sunshine Project, a charity helping needy children in Egypt (the total raised was well over £4000).

Next up the fantastic artist Mark Wilkinson who designed all the sleeves for the early Marillion albums, all of Fish's solo work and has also worked with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest took questions from the crowd.

Time for music next with a short acoustic set including stripped down versions of Marillion classics 'Sugar Mice,' 'Lavender' and solo tracks 'State Of Mind' and 'A Gentleman's Excuse Me.'

The venue then closed for sound checks and the fans made their way to various bars and restaurants in town, I myself went to The Jug and Jester which was full of Fish tee-shirts.

Pendragon, photo by Andrew Lock

Support for the evening came from the excellent Pendragon who played a blinding set including latest album tracks 'Indigo' and 'Eraserhead' and classic oldies 'Breaking the Spell' and 'Masters Of Illusion' and they went down a storm.

Now the big man himself, who played almost a three-hour set starting with him walking through the crowd to the stage singing 'Vigil' and he played close to a three-hour set including solo and Marillion material.

The solo tracks included 'Brother 52,' 'Numbers', Suits’ and The Clock Moves Sideways' and all except one track from a run through of current album 13th Star.

From his Marillion years he played 'Incubus', 'Fugazi', 'Freaks’ a rocking 'Assassing' and finished with 'Market Square Heroes'.

SUNDAY Sunday started with some real fun a 'Hunt the Penguin' treasure hunt/competition which involved teams of up to four people walking around the town with a page of clues and directions to various locations with Fish/Marillion references.

These included The Jug and Jester, Katie's Kabin newsagent and Murphy's Bar, where there were also questions to answer, and when the penguin was finally located at The Bandstand prizes were given to the first team to make it and the team with most questions correctly answered. The teams also got soaked by the Hunt the Penguin welcoming committee.

This was followed by another talk from Fish, this time assisted by various band members, and topics this time including the expense of flying and drinking Tabasco sauce!

Comedy quiz next along the lines of a well known TV quiz but this time called 'Never Mind The Fish Heads' and included all the various rounds from the show. After the sound check interval the evening started with a solo set by Chris Johnson which included a superb version of the song he wrote for Mostly Autumn 'Gaze.'

The Reasoning, photo by Andrew Lock

Next up a band I enjoy more every time I see them The Reasoning, mostly playing material from their first two albums Awakening and Dark Angel. There were many stand outs in a fantastic set but if I had to pick a few it would be 'Aching Hunger,' 'Fallen Angels', 'Dark Angel' and opener 'Within Cold Glass'.

Time flies and the last set of the convention just about brought the house down, the Fish set started with the classic debut Marillion album title track 'Script For a Jesters Tear' and included rarely played solo songs 'TumbleDown', 'Poets Moon', 'Long Cold Day' as well as live favourites 'Lucky', 'State Of Mind' and 'Internal Exile'. He also had the crowd singing along to the classic Marillion tracks 'Kayleigh', 'Lavender' and 'Heart of Lothian.'

What a weekend and great to have him bring this event to my hometown and being with fans from all over the world saying what a fantastic town and venue made me feel very proud. Lets hope he comes back soon.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

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