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'V' Shows. The Astoria, London - Saturday 8th May 2004
Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton - Saturday 15th May 2004
It was only 18 months ago that I saw Mostly Autumn at Northampton’s Roadmender with about 45 other people. Last Saturday at The Astoria I was in the company of around 1500 people for the latest tour. Not quite the huge leaps enjoyed by a certain over-hyped 70’s and 80’s tribute band in the past year, but still testament to Mostly Autumn’s hard work ethic, superb music, and a very supportive loyal following (fans and record company included).
The pre-show news was that this was the biggest light show ever to feature in The Astoria, even bigger than the Stones rig last year, and that lasers had now been added as well. Obviously the band and management feel that living up to their tagline “Is this the next Pink Floyd”, is important for their progression to the lofty heights they aspire towards, and goes beyond mere musical similarities. On entrance it is clear that the central London power grid is going to be working overtime tonight, as there are lights everywhere.
No support, and MA are on stage promptly at 7:15pm due to curfew restrictions, a blessing for anyone trying to pass the time with a drink or two as they may be able to get out without needing a bank loan. The first half of the set is the entire track listing from the latest album “Passengers” in a slightly different running order. Normally, I would not be too happy for a band to play their latest album in its entirety at the expense of old favourites in the set, but "Passengers" is such a superb album nothing is lost because of this. The amazing Troy Donockley joins the band on stage as he did in the recording studio to add the extra acoustic dimension of the haunting Uilleann pipes during ‘Pass the Clock’, and bazouki on ‘Bitterness Burnt’. The pipes are much clearer in the mix than they were at York last year and the effect is stunning.
Now the light show is excellent, but it does appear that the lasers were a bit of an afterthought. We seem to be seeing general laser clip-art most of the time, which doesn’t really fit in with the nature of the songs and is detracting from the overall lighting effect rather than adding to it. There is round video screen that swings down from the roof to display video clips on for some of the songs, but it makes a lot of noise while in motion and some of the images are not centred properly. Teething problems, I’m sure, but with only 3 shows to do with this rig they don’t have a lot of time to make adjustments.
After a short break, the band perform half a dozen older tunes including ‘The Night Sky’ which sees more pipe work by Troy, and the ever present ‘Mother Nature’. The most emotional moment of the night comes at the end of ‘Heroes Never Die’ as a photograph of the man who inspired the song, Bryan’s father Robert Josh, is projected on to the video screen to loud cheers from the audience. No time to leave the stage and return for an encore (due to curfew), so the band just launch straight in to a cover of Genesis’ ‘Afterglow’, a trait the band have picked up recently of playing one or two covers from bands that are heavily influential to their music.
A week later in Wolverhampton, a repeat dose is enjoyed with the addition of ‘The Last Climb’ to the set, giving Angela the chance to show off her skills with a lengthy flute solo. Heather is in fabulous form tonight, and her voice is sounding even better than normal. Bryan is really warming to the role of guitar hero, and even Liam ventures to front of stage more often than normal. Band newcomer Andrew Jennings, who joined just before the current tour, has rapidly grown into the drummer’s seat, and while he isn’t yet providing all the fills and rolls of his predecessor, it is clear that his confidence is growing with each show.
I don’t think seating is the right environment for this venue, and the band encouraged the audience to stand and move to the front during the second half, which makes for a much better atmosphere. The lighting rig is impressive again, although the video screen can not be lowered due to reduced roof clearance. Some work has been done with the lasers, and the pointless clip-art is much reduced. The effect with the lasers at the end of ‘Evergreen’ is superb, and shows just what can be done with a little more preparation time.
More 'V' shows have now been announced for later in the year, which will probably mean a return of this lighting rig. Book tickets early is my advice, as Mostly Autumn are moving onwards and upwards.
Is this the next Pink Floyd? Everything I’ve seen so far suggests there is no reason why this cannot be the case. They have the songs, they have heaps of talent, and they have the drive and desire to conquer the rock world.
Bryan Josh - Lead electric guitars, vocals, 6 & 12-string acoustic guitars
Heather Findlay - Vocals, acoustic guitar, penny whistle, tambourine, bodhran
Iain Jennings - Keyboards, Hammond organ, backing vocals
Liam Davison - Electric guitars, 6 & 12-string acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Angela Goldthorpe - Flute, Keyboards, whistles, recorder, backing vocals
Andrew Jennings - Drums
Andy Smith - Bass Guitar
Troy Donockley - Uilleann pipes, bazouki, low whistle
Caught In A Fold
Something In Between
Pure White Light
Answer The Question
Pass The Clock
The Night Sky
Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part 2)
The Last Climb (Wolverhampton only)
Never The Rainbow
Heroes Never Die
Review: Ian Pollard