The unplugged live experience seems perfectly suited to the vocal styling of x-Marillion front man Fish. And “Communion”, his recent 19 track double-disc collection recorded at St. Mary’s Church, Haddington on the Acoustic Night of the Company Convention August 2006, bears this out. As with most unplugged sessions the material moves at a slower more relaxed pace than the original studio version of the tunes; and while some of the power and passion is more subdued, the intimacy between Fish and his audience makes for a laid back enjoyable listening experience.
The recoding quality on the disc is beautiful, thanks to Calum Malcolm and his mobile recording unit. The sound is so warm and flawless that it might well have been recorded in a controlled studio environment. Fish tackles a few tunes never performed before a live audience including a very personally track written for his 16 year old daughter “Tara”, who also appears with the band on backing vocals, along with Heather Findlay and Angela Gordon of ‘Mostly Autumn’ and Anne-Marie Helder (ex-Karnataka).
All but two of the tunes are from his many solo works, but Fish does manage to drop in a pair of old ‘Marillion’ favorites as well, “Slainthe Mhath” and “Chelsea Monday” to the delight of his fans. Joining Fish on stage that evening were Frank Usher (guitar), Andy Trill (guitar), Steve Vantsis (bass), Tony Turrell (keyboards), Gavin Griffiths (drums) and Dave Haswell (percussion).
Fish has a variety of live recordings on the market, but for a man with many personal demons in his past, this recording experience was his most personal and cathartic; as he most eloquently expressed in his own words: “The sense of “Communion” was complete, the fourth wall was broken down and the ghosts charged off into the night leaving me with a feeling of total celebration, deliverance and closure. There are points in your life when you think you have reached an ending and a beginning at the same time. This was one of them.” Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on March 27th, 2008