Thursday, September 05, 2002

Watty feels he ought to explain:

These are in no particular order - in fact, I've randomised them a little to avoid having several similar entries in a row; also, the 'countdown' is not indicative or status...


Marillion. The first of the Edinburgh memories - it'll be interesting to see if they are more numerous than the four years would warrant. The Chambers Street Union was - apparently it's empty now - a labyrinthine place, with the main bar two floors below ground level. Thanks to Edinburgh's interesting topography, of course, there was a door in the bar which opened onto the Cowgate at the back. Sometime in late 1982 or early 1983, I was asked if I wanted a ticket to see this new band who 'sound a bit like Genesis' at Chambers Street. I'm pretty sure that I had vaguely heard of them, but the 'Genesis' thing put me off, and I declined. Eventually, of course, I was persuaded ('they're not that much like Genesis, honest') to go, and I think it was partly the curiosity value which persuaded me: how did they intend to put a band on in there?

The answer proved to be 'move some tables and chairs out of the way, and let them play'. The band gathered in a corner; the audience gathered around the bar, some people continued to play pool at the tables in the back, out of sight of the band, and this enormous, face-painted frontman strode in from the front door and launched into 'Garden Party'. This will be Fish, then, I mused. Stupid name. Gradually, however, Fish and his companions won me over: here was a band on the brink of breaking through, doing a gig probably set up by a friend of a friend for a favour in a cramped basement to an audience of about 50, and they gave it their all. The full theatrical experience, the best sound they could muster, and several encores - I think they played 'Supper's Ready' at one point, but I forgave them. Six months later, they're in the charts, on 'Top of the Pops', and selling out good sized venues. It's really my only 'before they were famous' story, and I mostly remember it for the sheer oddness of the whole thing.

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