Email 18th March 2005

Subject: Fish 2005 - The Company Europe Newsletter March 2005

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

Well it's definitely Spring and the cunning plans sown last year are beginning to rise! I am now four weeks away from beginning rehearsals, a fact that always sends a shudder of fear and excitement through me even after all these years. It's a new set bristling with numbers some of which haven't been on a set list for quite a while and sure to raise a smile on the most cynical of faces!
Having stopped smoking over a month ago and indulging in a fair bit of exercise I feel better prepared for this year's activities than I have done for a long time. The band are on board and I am glad that the same unit that finished the year at the Astoria is about to take on this new set. John Tonks on drums and Andy Trill on guitars are the "new boys" in the grand scheme of things with Frank Usher, Steve Vantsis and Tony Turrell remaining in the fold, a fact that will make rehearsals slightly less stressful as they were involved in the Enschede convention; the last time "Misplaced Childhood" was aired.
Tony T and I spent a long afternoon picking out the set and to trim it from a wish list that would have taken over three hours to perform was a difficult task. It is still coming in at over two hours at the moment and I am sure further pruning will be necessary if we are to make it to the end of the year!

Rehearsals will take place in a small village hall outside Haddington. I had originally thought about setting up a warm up show in the hall but organisational and time restrictions forced me to reconsider. The UK shows in April are warm ups and set lists will probably change nightly as we experiment with the "curves" before the larger South American venues in May and the Eastern European trip later in the month. My daughter's arrival in early June shuts down the touring to weekend activities in the main until July when school holidays allow me to spread my wings again.

Confirmed dates so far are as follows -
24th April Manchester Academy 3
25th April Nottingham Rescue Rooms
26th April Sheffield Boardwalk
28th April Stourbridge Rock Cafe
29th April Bristol Bierkeller
30th April The Brook Southampton
1st May Falmouth Princess Pavilion
2nd May The Cavern Liverpool
6th May Santiago, Chile
7th May Cordoba, Argentina
8th May Santa Fe, Argentina
10th May Buenos Aires, Argentina
11th May San Paulo, Brazil
13th May Porto Allegre, Brazil
21st to 27th May Bulgaria T.B.C
4th June Tiana Prog Fest (near Barcelona), Spain
16th June SAS Band, Cyprus (With Midge Ure, Roger Taylor, Chris Thompson et all)
18th June Fete de la musique, Luxembourg
26th June Parkpop, Den Hague, Holland (one of - if not the biggest open air audience in Europe with an anticipated attendance of around 500 000 over the weekend).

We are negotiating an Italian tour in July which hopefully will include both Sicily and Malta and are looking for other shows during the Summer. The principal "Return to Childhood" tour will occur in the Autumn from around October onward and that will encompass a "proper" UK and mainland European tour. That period will involve taking out a full production. It's a lot of organisation and balancing of energies and as the tour "opens up" in various territories I am sure demand will increase for more shows.

It is ironic that with this "retrospective" tour that the news of the death of one of the most important DJs in the history of British rock resonated through the music industry. I was deeply sad to hear that Tommy Vance, a massive supporter of my career both as a member of Marillion and as a solo artist, had died unexpectedly after a stroke last weekend. It was Tommy and his producer Tony Wilson that gave Marillion possibly our biggest ever break by giving us one of the sought after Radio One Friday Night Rock Sessions back in 1982. The broadcast immediately preceded our first ever Scottish tour and gave us a nationwide profile that would enable us to declare ourselves a true professional band as more and more gigs came in and we surged toward the elusive record deal.
I attended the memorial service in London on Tuesday and, as expected, it was a memorable affair with a very non-religious feel and a distinctly rock motif! There were no hymns but tracks from Floyd, AC DC, Neil Young and others were played over the PA in Golders Green crematorium. Memorials were read by a number of people but my favourite was from, I think, Richard Skinner who proclaimed that Tommy's family had offered his body up for any body parts that could be utilised. A few days later the hospital got back to the family and said that there was nothing at all that could be used. The perfect farewell message from a man who lived life to the full in every sense! :-)
I was a bit surprised at the lack of representation from musicians with Steve Hackett, Ian Gillan, Jon Lord and Nik Turner standing out by their presence. Radio, press and TV were there and the wake after reunited me with quite a few old friends including Mick Wall and Steve Blacknell who had worked on the Goldiggers show in 83 and the infamous night of the Grendel challenge. Needless to say I drank to the main man's memory and retired as gracefully as I could at an early-ish opportunity.

Back home to impending Easter and a trip to Dusseldorf for Company Germany founder Joergen Neuhaus's 50th birthday party and picking up Tara for the holidays. Rehearsals are so close I get "whiteys" and with the seed bursting through in the "Bluehouse" it will be a tough month as garden demands will totally take out my mornings and nights during lead up time to the tour. Looks like the "Blue house" will be full of music and with lyric sheets stickered to the glass for a couple of weeks! Might be an interesting experiment to see whether the plants like the solo or Marillo stuff better! :-) Pity we aren't doing "Garden Party" as that would probably add a few centimetres to the cucumbers! :-)

My time in London was also spent meeting up with some companies and examining options for the end of the year with regard to a "Best of.." and the future releases from the forthcoming tour. The vibes were very positive and I have been given a lot to ponder over. An approach by a major film company re an acting project has thrown some confusion into the early part of the Summer and as always I will be juggling elephants at some point this year!

Mark Wilkinson is still putting together the artwork/tour images and I don't expect to have finished work until around May as he has been very busy with other projects. The artwork and sleeve designs are now complete for the Polish DVDs and the "Scattering Crows" various titles. Mark used one of the original "Yin/Yang" fish designs with carp rather than the trout that graced that tour's imagery in 95. It seemed particularly apt as that fish is considered quite a delicacy in Poland and is seen as their equivalent of the British Sunday roast! Ah the education you receive along the way! :-)

The "Acoustic Night" and "Electric Night" DVD's were both recorded on the "Yin/Yang" tour in 1995 and are available as two separate titles at 14.99 pounds Sterling each or for a limited period at 25 pounds Sterling for both titles when ordered together. Both prices exclude postage. The discs come as a DVD with an accompanying CD of the concert as part of the package. The "Scattering Crows" DVD has the full concert from Bradford, sound mixed by Elliot Ness and mastered by Calum Malcolm, together with extras from the Malta show in July last year. The extras include an interview shot backstage the night after our show and footage of "The Rookie", "Tiki 4"and "Numbers". The double live CD includes a "full version" of "Plague of Ghosts" as Elliot and Calum edited the multi track recording from Bilston earlier in the tour together with the Bradford recordings. It also includes versions from Bilston of "Old Crow" and "Lost Plot" which feature drummer Windsor McGilvray rather than John Tonks who took over after the Amsterdam show. The DVD and the double CD are 15.99 pounds Sterling each plus postage or if bought together on the same order will be sent out with a single disc CD which has the remainder of the Bilston gig. The Bilston CD cannot be purchased separately and is only available as a free bonus disc when both the DVD and double CD are ordered together. Full listings and artwork can be seen on the web site. The Polish DVD's and the "Scattering Crows" live material can be ordered as from next week and will be available from the second week of April.

Your support on these projects is greatly appreciated as we move into a long rehearsal period followed by warm ups for a tour which will hopefully extend into early 2006. This is a huge venture for me and one I did not expect to be undertaking at this same point last year. Any help you can give me on the warm up tour and spreading the news as the year opens up into the main tour is vastly appreciated by all of us in the band and the crew. Thanks as always for being out there for me and for your continued support, see you on the road!
Return to childhood indeed! :-)

Lots of love
Onkel Fish xx

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