My first exposure to Marillion came in 1985, when a local radio station started playing “Kayleigh” semi-regularly. I adored that song, and my friend Kevin was a fan of the band, so I taped the Misplaced Childhood album from him. Well, I liked that album enough that when its sequel Clutching At Straws came out in 1987, I bought it right away. I even had a big poster of the album cover in my room, thanks to my job-at-the-time with a record store. Both those albums stayed on heavy rotation throughout my high school years. The driving, Who-ish music was great, but what I loved the most were the poetic lyrics, passionate intensity, and thrilling voice of the lead singer, a chap who went by the handle “Fish”. (His real name is Derek Dick — I guess I’d pick a pseudonym too.)
Sadly, after Clutching, Fish left the band, and I stopped paying attention. Marillion released more stuff with a new singer, but it didn’t captivate me, and as far as I knew, Fish disappeared completely. If only the Internet had been around in those days, I’d have learned soon enough that he’d done no such thing. Instead, he came out with a solo album a mere 3 years later, but I never saw that album — Fish is Scottish, and I guess as a solo artist he didn’t have a big US distribution deal the way Marillion did. He then went on to release eight more solo albums, the latest of which, 13th Star, came out earlier this year. I never bought any of these, even once I knew they existed, because as imports, they all carried high price tags. Since post-band solo work is often inferior, it felt like too much money to spend for the risk involved. However, when I saw he was touring the US for the first time in 10 years and playing a lot of late Marillion material, I decided I needed to go. Even better, I figured out that I could download 13th Star from iTunes for almost half of what Amazon wants for it. Thanks, Internet!