Misery Hill: The Songs & Tall Tales of Jerry Fish – Part One – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Dates Sep 20 – 23 @ 21:00 – Tickets €20/ €18 conc.
Duration 90 mins – Venue: Project Arts Centre Space Upstairs
Jerry Fish finally tells all in this autobiographical piece, of sorts. This is no average upbringing in a semi-d in suburbia, this is something else entirely. He is descended from a line of pirates, one of which was hung on Misery Hill, which is where the title of the production comes from. There are elements of truth in what you hear, the basic facts remain but everything has been given a hint more glamour and a touch of magic.
Jerry Fish is the alter ego of Gerard Whelan, the one-time lead singer of An Emotional Fish and Jerry Fish and the Mudbug club. He is an artist who has managed to ride the wave of public opinion over the years. An Emotional Fish released their first album in 1990 and he has never left the stage since. This performance had a cabaret feel to it, combining text and music.
The set is one of the most impressive in the Fringe Festival, with a strong nautical theme. There is also a screen at the back of the stage and a variety of images are shown on it, linking with the stories being told. The band are a three-piece, along with Jerry there is a double bass and piano player.
The piece opens with a cover of a song by Daniel Johnston ‘The Story of an Artist’, which tells of ‘an artist growing old’. The set list was mostly original work including ‘The Hole In The Boat’, ‘Life Is Sweet’ and ‘Baby You Are In Or You’re Out’ along with a few covers. Jerry has written a text about his early years, which he performs. He tells of his childhood in London, where he always felt like an outsider being called an ‘Irish bastard’. Later, when his family returned to Dublin, he was called an ‘English Bastard’ by the locals.
The music has a jazzy edge and Cian Boylan is very impressive on piano. Jerry is a natural showman and works the crowd well, making them clap, sing and dance along. He also drags members of the audience onto the stage, so don’t expect to be left in your seats for too long. The tale is very much ‘Part One’ and stops in his late teens, but the text works well and gives a theatrical edge to proceedings. Later in the night, the pretence was dropped in favour of an all out gig, with many crowd favourites performed such as Blue and Celebrate. It was an enjoyable night of music and tall tales. He must be doing something right to survive 25 years in show business, and we look forward to the next 25.
Find out more about Jerry Fish here.