Yes, the weather ran the gamut from thick mist (which gave the park an eerie, closed-off ambience on the Saturday), torrential rain and gale-force winds on the Monday morning which almost tore the writer's tent apart at the seams. Yes, the line-up echoed virtually nothing of musical developments of the last ten, or even fifteen years, and left very little for the under-25s, on the main stage at least, to groove to - Marillion?! Oh, come on. Yes, the 'Information' tent had the misnomer of the year. And yes, attendance was abysmal.
So why doesn't Fife Aid feel like a complete disaster?
Blitz spirit or whatever, the atmosphere was superb; perhaps the misfortunes that had befallen the festival before it had even started (like the much-trumpeted TV linkup falling through) raised the camaraderie among those who had made it.
John Martyn proved one of the highlights in a spellbinding and all-too-short set with just his voicebox, a guitar and an echo pedal; Van [Morrison] was, well, Van, a chance to cool out and take in the countryside, not substantially different from the last time I saw him open-air, but obviously enjoying himself with a well-received version of Marie's Wedding. Maybe he'd checked out Run Rig, who'd had us all singing along with Loch Lomond the previous night, just before Marillion came on.
Marillion were an education; hopelessly derivative of early Genesis, as if that needs to be repeated, but Fish knows his stuff as a frontman, not that the fans needed much enthusing. I'd never thought that watching Marillion in the middle of a cold park could be 'an intimate gig', but there you are.
The Sugarcubes, a personal highlight, suffered from their placing, late on the gloomy Saturday afternoon, and a bit of bemusement at Einar's unrepentant show-off antics, but excelled nonetheless.
This review appeared in The List #72 of 5th August 1988, page 22.