Plenty more fish in the Caves

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TOP of the list of questions for Fish ahead of this weekend’s gig in the Capital is the one about his voice. After all, only two years ago the former Marillion man was forced to take time out to recover from an operation on his vocal chords following a cancer scare.

So, how goes it with the big man? “The voice is fine, no problems there,” says the 6ft 5ins singer as he sups on a pint of Guinness. “I’ve played loads of gigs this year - 60 in Germany alone - and it’s all going well. I’m really enjoying my music at the moment.”

Fish - real name Derek Dick - has been marking 30 years in the music business this year, and as part of his current tour he plays The Caves on Sunday night.

“I’m really looking forward to that gig in particular,” says the 53-year-old, who was born in Dalkeith and lives in Haddington. “It’s always a bit special playing in Edinburgh, and there will be a lot of old faces at the gig that I’ve not seen for a while. There are also fans coming from all over to the show, and I’ve just heard that it’s completely sold out, which is great.”

In Marillion’s heyday in the Eighties, Fish played to crowds of 120,000 fans and supported Queen. The prog-rockers had success on both sides of the Atlantic, selling more than 15 million albums and enjoying hit singles like Kayleigh and Lavender.

But a fed-up Fish suddenly quit the band in 1998. And while he admits he was “impetuous at the time and could have done things differently”, he insists he has no regrets.

“The reasons were a mixture of musical differences - I detested the management we had, and we had a number of unresolved issues,” he says. “We were playing on average to 10,000 people a night five days a week, and it became a big machine - and machines aren’t good with people.

“It was a big change going from being in a band to being on my own, but I have no regrets.

“I have been solo for longer than I have been in a band and I have seen a lot more things than I would have done if I had stayed in Marillion.”

His chart-bothering days may be behind him now, but Fish has continued to release albums - his last, 13th Star, was in many people’s opinion the best of his solo career.

“That’s the benchmark I want to maintain,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s the best album I’ve ever done, but it was a good one and people really seemed to like it.”

As soon as the current tour is over, Fish says he’ll hole himself up in his Haddington studio to start work on a new album entitled A Feast of Consequences.

“I don’t like to write when I’m on the road because all my energy is going into the performance on the night,” he says. “But next year I’ll be back in the studio and we’ll take it from there.”

Fish, The Caves, Niddry Street, Sunday, 7pm, £17.50, 0131-557 8989