Pigpen's Birthday

Battleside Ltd, released June 1993

USA: Griffin GN 0831-2
USA: Renaissance Records RMED00159-2 (Released 24th Sept 96)

Re-released 28th Oct 1998 - Roadrunner Records
Eur: RR 8684-2 (016861868420)

2CDs in Box
USA: Griffin FI103 (250 copies in a walnut wooden box)

Recorded at London Hammersmith Odeon, 2nd April 1990 (2nd night)
CD 1 (54:56):
01. The Voyeur (I Like to Watch) (06:31) [Dick/Simmonds]
02. Punch And Judy (05:17) [Dick/Kelly/Mover/Rothery/Trewavas]
Poll tax rave
03. State Of Mind (06:17) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
Spot the singer's own goal
04. Family Business (05:50) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
05. Assassing (06:41) [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley/Mover/Pointer/Minnett]
Crew dedication (Assassing continued)
06. The Company (07:06) [Dick/Simmonds]
Mickey Simmonds piano intro
07. Script For A Jesters Tear (07:13) [Dick/Kelly/Pointer/Rothery/Trewavas]
Mickey speaks
08. A Gentleman's Excuse Me (04:24) [Dick/Simmonds]

CD 2 (50:23):
"Pigpens Birthday Song"
09. Sugar Mice (08:53) [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Mosley/Trewavas]
10. Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors (09:43) [Dick/Simmonds]
11. Kayleigh (04:04) [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Mosley/Trewavas]
12. Lavender (02:22) [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley]
Spot the singer's own goal
13. Heart Of Lothian (04:58) [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Mosley/Trewavas]
Emotional performance
14. Cliché (07:20) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
15. Big Wedge (06:24) [Dick/Simmonds]
16. Internal Exile (06:34) [Dick/Boult/Simmonds] (Recorded at Edinburgh Playhouse. 27 March 1990)

Vocals: Fish
Guitar: Frank Usher
Guitar, backing vocals: Robin Boult
Bass, backing vocals: Steve Brzezicki
Keyboards, backing vocals: Mickey Simmonds
Drums: Mark Brzezicki

Pigpen's Birthday is the first concert in a serie of 'official bootlegs' and was recorded on DAT at Hammersmith Odeon, 2nd of April 1990; part of the Vigil Tour.
I have some great memories about this tour. It was the first time I actually saw the big Scotsman live and the whole atmospheric stage set-up, complete with metal plates and a huge backdrop with an enlargement of the cathedral of the Vigil artowork, was the best he's ever had in his solo career.
The band on this album consists of Mickey Simmonds (Keyboards), Robin Boult (Guitar), Frank Usher (Guitar), Steve Brzezicki (bass) and his brother Mark on the drums.
The CD contains live versions of all of the tracks from Vigil except for one (View From A Hill) as well as some 'golden oldies' from the Marillion period, some of them in alternative versions.
On The Voyeur you can hear Fish play the perfect pervert and the track also includes a slightly extended ending. Punch And Judy has been turned into a more guitar orientated rock tune complete with a bass and drum break. This is my favourite version of this track and Fish liked it so well he re-recorded it in 1995 for his retrospective Yin & Yang albums. Assassing features an amazing vocal/guitar-jam. Script for a Jester's Tear includes a new extended piano improvisation by Mickey and a changed ending.
A Gentleman's Excuse Me is a beautiful version with just Fish and Mickey. Even without the strings it sounds wonderful.
Sugar Mice is a nice version with just acoustic guitar (three to be precise) and bass. It's not as well structured as some of the later acoustic versions but very good nevertheless.
The versions of Kayleigh, Lavender and Heart of Lothian may not be the best versions available (you clearly miss Rothery's guitar sound), but are great to hear side to side with the Vigil material.
The intro to Big Wedge has been extended but does not yet feature the 'sermon' of later versions. The CD closes with a live version of Internal Exile (which had not been officially released back then), recorded at a different concert in - how appropriate - Edinburgh.
Most of the songs from Vigil I haven't mentioned are basiscally identical to the album versions. Improvistations on these songs did not develop until later in Fish' solo career.
Track coding on disk one is quite sloppy; track 6 and 8 are programmed incorrectly so that you start in the middle of another track when you try to skip to these songs.
The recording is very 'raw' but I like it that way since the live feel is much more 'real' this way. There are a couple of bum notes and maybe not everything is played as fluent as it could have been but these are just minor cases. Fish chats about the Poll Tax, 'domestic problems', the tour crew, his reputation in the Daily Star, the birthday of their bus driver Pigpen (hence the title of the album) and other topics.
A very nice live album with a great backing band. If you enjoy the old Marillion stuff and the Vigil songs, you should definitely check out this disc. 8.5 out of 10.
Ed Sander (DPRP), December 2003

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