Return to Childhood: 20th Anniversary Tour of Misplaced Childhood

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The live album Return to Childhood was recorded on Fish's 2005 tour of the same name, because after a first set featuring the Scottish prog rocker's best solo material, the second set (or disc, here) is a 20th anniversary live re-creation of Marillion's 1985 album Misplaced Childhood. Somewhat surprisingly, the new version works quite well, with all of the technical mastery of the familiar album but adding a bracing immediacy that dated mid-'80s production values can't touch. The highlight, as on the original album, is the unexpectedly poppy ballad "Kayleigh," the closest Marillion ever came to a standard love song and by far their biggest single; in this version, the lower register that is Fish's normal range these days allows for a somewhat bitter, rueful edge to creep into the "I never meant to break your heart" refrain. The addition of an encore of three older Marillion favorites including an epic closing version of "Fugazi" makes the second disc a must for fans. As for the first disc, for all of the striking similarities, vocally speaking, between Fish and Peter Gabriel, the former did not manage to make the artistic leap from group to solo artist as gracefully, with even the best songs here sounding like pale imitations of Marillion. Even hardcore Fish-heads will turn to the second disc more often.

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