Saying farewell to childhood, and realising what’s important with Fish as the conduit

A thought struck MV on the way here tonight. The older you get, the more importance is attached to things that actually weren’t important at all at the time.

Take music. When you’re ten years old and you are taping songs off the top 40 on Radio One because you like them, you don’t stop to think if the track is from what will, thirty years later, be one of your favourite records, it’s just cool. Something to tell your mate about at school the next day. But in a December night in another century, nothing can evoke feelings in this way.

So, here, right now, you remember the feeling when you see that single a week or two later, in the shop which your Gran (who left us just under five years after you bought it) worked in, and you ask your mum (who left us six years, 10 months and 21 days ago…. and its not just tonight she’s in the thoughts) to give you £1 pocket money so you can buy it.

You don’t think, at the time, that it’s going to start a lifelong love for Prog Rock. You don’t know what Prog Rock is. You are a little kid who also taped just about everything else on the radio at the time so you could pretend you were a DJ in your room after the football results. Instead you say to your mum “it’s that ‘do you remember’ one I told you about, can I have it please?”

There’s about 1000 people here tonight and they’ve all got their own story about that song. Fish has his own. “It’s the dread,” he says on stage before the performance starts. “Are you Fish from Marillion? Play ‘Kayleigh’ for us yer bastard!” Quite.

But before we all live our own Misplaced Childhood, there’s the small matter of four songs from the wonderful solo career of Derek Dick.

“Pipeline” is a rocking, strident opening, “Feast Of Consequences” the title track of his brilliant most recent effort, but it’s the other two that are the most impressive. The dark “Family Business” and the incredible statement of defiance “The Perception Of Johnny Punter” written in Kosovo in the 1990s it takes on huge significance now, especially after the passionate speech from Fish that prefaces it.

The singer is funny and engaging, but he’s experienced enough to know why Birmingham is here and it’s the 30th anniversary of the work of genius – and if we didn’t know that to be the case as a ten year old in 1985 we do now – that is and was “Misplaced Childhood”.

Played as one complete piece, from “Pseudo Pink Kimono” to “White Feather”, it was designed to be heard like this and doesn’t need reviewing. Quite simply it’s one of the finest records ever recorded and we all know it. There’s nothing more to say about it except to leave people with their own thoughts.

There’s an encore or two after all that and “Market Square Heroes” is a fantastic song, and as a Fish solo record in “The Company” with all its Tom Waits -meets folk overtones, concludes things it’s obvious that this a fantastic artist, who has, as he puts it, been in all our bedrooms, even if the ballet dancing isn’t up to much….

Tonight, though was about not just the collective experience, but also memories and personal reflection (and we make no apologies for indulging in both). Each of these songs that we all know means something to everyone, but in so many different ways. That’s why they’ve lasted 30 years and why this needed to be played. Sometimes, it’s the small things that are important after all.