By Kirsten Donovan and Andrew Heavens
LONDON (Reuters) - Thirty years after the release of Marillion's platinum-rated "Misplaced Childhood" album, Scottish lead singer Fish is on the road performing the work in its entirety for the last time before retiring.
In an iTunes age of schizophrenic track hopping, a 40-minute concept rock album seems an outdated curiosity. But the loyal sell-out London crowd on Saturday night lapped up every minute, as the songs blended seamlessly one into another.
"It was an album that touched a lot of people back in 1985. The concept of rediscovery, someone rebuilding and finding themselves is an eternal story," lyricist Fish, who fronted Marillion between 1981 and 1988, told Reuters in an interview.
"It has such strong songs, such a lot of drama. When I'm performing it on stage, there's been a couple of moments when I've choked (up)," Fish, less well known as Derek William Dick, said. "It was a very personal album for me, very autobiographical."
Back in London, haunting keyboards signaled the beginning of the performance of "Misplaced Childhood", segueing into "Kayleigh", the band's biggest hit and credited with boosting the popularity of the girls name for a generation. It then gave way to "Lavender", a resplendent take on the traditional children's lullaby.
Over complex musical arrangements, Fish, whose voice has been described as a "conflation of Roger Daltrey and Peter Gabriel", gave an impassioned performance, at times making you think that some of the demons which haunted the tracks of "Misplaced Childhood" at its inception, were not really that far away.
In the audience, tt was the third time Steve Lynch had seen Fish this year. "Bearing in mind this is (Fish's) last rendition of 'Misplaced Childhood' and the fact that he's giving up touring, we felt we had to come up all the way to London to see him," said the 63-year-old from Worthing, on England's south coast.
The audience, word perfect from first to last, at times threatened to drown out the band as familiar lyrics were retrieved from deep in the memory.
For husband and wife John and Babs Weston, from Sittingbourne in Kent, the album was the soundtrack for their teenage years.
"We've listened to it for years and years and years ... We named one of our daughters, the youngest one, after Kayleigh," said John, 48.
The rest of the set was filled with material from Fish's solo career - both he and Marillion have released an imposing number of albums since going their separate ways, albeit without the commercial success they enjoyed together.
(Editing by Michael Roddy/Jeremy Gaunt)