Midstock may not be a name familiar to most outwith the Midlothian area, but there was one addition to the 2015 bill that brought it exploding onto our event radar. Alongside a rave DJ, a boy band and a couple of slightly bigger names the addition of Fish to the bill as part of his 30th anniversary Farewell To Childhood tour meant that ere was nowhere else to be on a Saturday night.
All day at the festival we’d been seeing people in Fish and Marillion t-shirts milling about, looking slightly bored and clearly just filling in the time until the legendary frontman takes the stage. The crowd down the barrier has been predominantly young folk all day, but as 19:45 approaches the entire crowd barrier demographic changes, with today’s younger generation mostly vanishing a more mature audience taking their place… mind you many of that more mature audience were the kids down the barrier themselves 30 years ago.
Things get underway with Pipeline, but in truth we’re all here for one reason. Tonight is the last time that Marillion’s breakthrough will be played “under the sky” in the UK. Fish has come home, Misplaced Childhood has come home and this is going to be something truly special.
The Midstock lineup is a strange place to find an old bloke playing prog rock, as the big man acknowledges “This is much weirder for us up here than it is for you”, followed by a disparaging “Did you see that wee rave god earlier”. Fish knows his audience too, commenting that the look of the crowd down the barrier has changed, with the “shine” from hundreds of bald heads reflecting back like some strange light show. Well tonight, he promises us, hair will grow, waistlines will shrink, bad backs will sort themselves out and “diddies will firm up” as we’re transported back in time by 3 decades.
Well for 50 minutes at least.
As the first strains of Pseudo Silk Kimono ring out place springs to life, we’ve had sing-alongs before but this was the whole crowd down the front singing along to an entire album.. word perfect (mostly).. after 30 years. The towering form of master of ceremonies Fish dominates proceedings, he has lost none of his intensity over the years… and his dance moves haven’t improved much either.
Kayleigh, Lavender, Childhood’s End, all unforgettable, and you can probably imagine how Heart Of Lothian went over with this crowd in this place, I don’t think my voice has recovered yet. Misplaced Childhood was a landmark album and this was as good a send off as you could wish for.
Once the album play through was complete there was time for one more song, and Market Square Heroes gave us all a last opportunity to jump about in a way that most of us probably regretted the next day. After the set finished the age demographic down the front reverted to it’s former level for the night’s official headliners but for the aging legions in their faded t-shirts this was the headline performance, this was unforgettable.
Think I may have gotten something in my eye, and I suspect I wasn’t the only one.
The Farewell To Childhood tour may not hit the venues of the UK for a couple of months, but this preview at Midstock proves that catching one of those dates is a must. The headline shows may give Fish the chance to showcase more songs, but I doubt they can match the magic of a warm September night in when the sunset town of Dalkeith found its king.
And I bet September in Dalkeith has never been described as magical before.