Saturday 2nd December 2006
The Grand Opera House in York, UK
I first encountered the music of Mostly Autumn in April last year while sitting in a bar at the Boederij venue in Holland when I was there for a Riverside gig. One of their DVDs was being played on a large projection screen and I was so impressed with what I heard/saw, enquired what it was and, of course, discovered it to be Mostly Autumn. When I noticed they were playing just down the road from my house in The Drill Hall, Lincoln, at the end of March this year, I had no hesitation in checking out their live show. And what a fantastic gig it transpired to be. Playing mainly folk-tinged 70s inspired prog rock, their music also has a distinct contemporary sound. Judging from the majority of the audience at both the Lincoln gig and tonight's show, with an average age of around 45, Mostly Autumn have a predominantly middle-aged following. Apart from making me feel very young at 33, this is a pity as I truly believe their appeal could potentially be further reaching. Bands such as Anathema, with their own style of Floyd-influenced prog, have always managed to sustain a fanbase covering a much wider spectrum of ages, so it's unfortunate that Mostly Autumn's music, at least in this country, seems to have largely escaped the younger prog fan.
Mostly Autumn appear on stage not long after 8pm to ubiquitous applause and cheers from an enthusiastic and evidently excited audience in The Grand Opera House. A lot of new material is aired tonight from imminently forthcoming new album, 'Heart Full of Sky', alongside a whole array of songs from their impressive back catalogue including 'Passengers'; 'Heroes Never Die'; and 'Evergreen'. The set is in 2 halves to incorporate a short interval which guitarist/vocalist Bryan Josh rightly identifies will give people the chance to "get some booze down ya". Although the band generally have a pristine sound throughout the whole evening, the pre-interval set has a discernibly bass-heavy mix which, at times, abates the effect of vocalist Heather Findlay's otherwise powerful singing and some of Chris Johnson's keyboard parts. Fortunately, post-interval, bass levels are adjusted to a more sensible level in a well balanced and clearly improved mix. Both new and old tracks sound impressive tonight though, for me, highlight of the entire set has to be the song where Johnson assumes lead vocal duties - a keyboard-led, accomplished composition with some beautifully emotive singing.
As with Mostly Autumn's Lincoln show earlier this year, I can't help but draw parallels with Pink Floyd to the point where particular passages sound overwhelmingly similar. However, this comes across more as pastiche than plagiarism as Mostly Autumn have an original style of their own. They are also an entertaining band to watch live in both their interactions with each other and the audience. This culminates in Josh swigging beer while simultaneously playing the intro to a fun, and appropriately festive, encore of 'Fairytale of New York' and then spitting and throwing the drink over the front row (and spilling a significant amount over a monitor speaker - hopefully the band's own!). Overall, a solid, tight, and thoroughly enjoyable performance.