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Fish recruits John Beck for tour

It Bites keyboardist replaces newcomer Mike Varty after bandleader admits: "It wasn't coming together"

Fish has hired It Bites keyboardist to join his band for their upcoming tour dates, after realising newcomer Mike Varty wasn't working out the way they'd hoped.

Varty, whose most recent work was with Clive Nolan on his Alchemy musical, signed up in April after long-time collaborator Foss Paterson left by mutual agreement.

Now Fish reveals that the forced cancellation of his UK dates – as a result of guitarist Robin Boult's chicken pox – gave him time to reconsider the lineup change.

Fish says: "Mike had not slotted in the way I had hoped.He found it difficult to get his head round the material, which created some frustration, and a slight worry amongst the other band members. We were all nervous, with Mike in particularly noticeable stressed during the last rehearsals.

"We both knew that it wasn’t coming together as fast or as well as we had hoped. It wasn’t doing anything for anyone’s morale, including Mike’s. When I called him last week to let him know that I had decided to change keyboard players, I detected a sense of relief!"

Fish first met Beck when It Bites supported Marillion in 1987, although they've never previously worked together. On discovering Beck's outfit were "to all intents and purposes on hold" he made contact.

The keyboard learned the set quickly and attended first rehearsals last week. Fish reports: "There were huge smiles across the rehearsal room for the first time in a while. Robin is a lot better although still easily fatigued – but there's an energy back in the unit again and everyone is looking forward to John's debut with us."

Beck takes the stage with the band in Rome on June 5 and will play at all shows until the end of the year, including the run of UK dates which were rescheduled from this month.

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