Fish announced to the Freaks mailing list that he was going to his guitarist Wes's wedding in Florida in January, 2000, and thought it would be a great time to do a mini-tour of the US East Coast.

Wow. I had never seen Fish live, despite being a Marillion fan for nearly 15 years. My first Marillion show was Steve Hogarth's first in the US with the band, and the other Fish US solo tour started on the day I went to Europe for a vacation. Ironic. Anyway, I was not going to miss this one.

On top of it, The Company was having a mini-convention in Philly the afternoon of the show, and Philly's only a two hour drive, so it was perfect.

I was going with my friend Ray who is a big fan as well. I joined the company so I could get in to the fan show, and we decided to make hotel reservations in Cherry Hill so that we wouldn't have to drive back at 3 in the morning.

The day of the concert was the coldest of that winter--probably 15 or 20 degrees at most. We set out for the hotel, got there, checked in, and then drove into the city. D'oh! I had forgotten my CD inserts that I was going to have Fish autograph at the fan club meet. Oh well, I'd think of something.

So we get to the con--it's at an Irish pub off of South Street where the Theatre of the Living Arts is. A huge crowd was already there, talking, drinking, having a good time. the Flying Fish Brewing Company was there as well, doing a decent cross-promotion with the musician. When I came up the stairs, Wes was there, and I said hi and we chatted for a few minutes. A really nice guy, one of those hard-working musicians who deserves more than he gets. He played a great, impromptu, acoustic set--the highlight of which is a cover of Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes.

So, a few hours late, but not in a bad way, Fish arrives. I was right near the door when he came in. Man, he's big--over six and a half feet tall, and very broad shouldered. He went to the bar and had a beer, and then did a Q&A with questions that were solicited by the Company staff from the crowd. Fish was thoughtful and funny, warm, and all around interesting--although at times tricky to understand with that thick Scottish accent. After the Q&A he signed everything handed to him (I had him sign a laminated tour pass and a "I Brake for Flying Fish" bumper sticker they were giving out), and then went back to the bus to rest before the show.

We went to Pat's Steaks for dinner, and then waited in line for the show. Wes' band opened, and they were fantastic.

Then Fish and the band. Man, they were on as well. Fish's voice wasn't 100%, but he more than made up for it with emotion and passion all around. His backing vocalist Liz Antwi also helped quite a bit. It was great to finally see the man live--his theatrics and all around stage presence are dazzling.

Afterwards, dizzy but happy, we went back to the motel, and then drove home the next morning, only 1 hour late for work. Not bad, not bad at all.

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