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Mostly Autumn Live

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      18.10.2006 21:05
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      Brit prog for those stuck in the 1970s

      Guitars Duelling With Pipes And Flutes. Gary Moore, Step Aside.

      Mostly Autumn.
      The Wharf, Tavistock, Devon.
      30/09/06.
      £13.00.

      You may be asking, and rightly so, what the hell is a boogie merchant such as Farting Weasel doing at a prog gig? Yep, I’ve been asking myself the same thing.

      However, I have a soft spot for Mostly Autumn. I do enjoy a spot of prog. It makes a refreshing change from the relentless charge of full on twelve bar. I like their Storms Over Still Water album, which I found to be a breath of fresh air amidst the heavy-weather brow-furrowing stuff that’s being chucked about at the moment. So, it was with eager anticipation did I descend upon Tavistock to get my head filled with clouds.

      Mostly Autumn are a seven-piece outfit, with three of their number being very attractive young women. Despite the ladies obvious instrumental talents, I’m sure their marketing value has not been ignored. All the band are excellent at what they do, the lead singer and the main keyboard player being multi instrumentalists.

      Mostly Autumn are about as close you can get to a tribute band without actually being one. Apparently, however, they did used to be a Pink Floyd tribute act in their early days. And it shows. Although everything they played tonight was their own stuff, their sound is top heavy with Floyd influences. But there are others too. There is more than a mere nod at the likes of Magnum, Renaissance and Clannad. Their quaint Englishness is reminiscent of Songs From The Wood era Tull. There’s a subtle Celtic otherworldliness that borders on wide-eyed nostalgic innocence. A yearning for an England of stout yeomen, buxom wenches and good ale.

      Thankfully the night saw no ‘hey nonny nonny’ bollocks.

      This gig was split into two halves. I hate it when bands do that. Tribute and covers bands do it all the time, and I can live with that. I know what’s coming.

      But not original bands. The ten-minute break mid set interrupts the flow and destroys any kind of rapport built up with the crowd. Tension is lost and so the finale of the show is always a disappointment. And so it was here.

      The first half started gently enough with the band sauntering on stage, plugging in and playing. That I do like. The sound was very muddy to start with and barely improved all night. Apparently, the soundman had been called in at an hours notice. Such are the vagaries of first nights. There were no stage props as such and no effects other than a few lights. That was good too. It shows a band with bollocks as such stripped down stage shows offer nowhere for the band to hide. The first half lasted about an hour.

      After a ten-minute break, the band reappeared as before and so started the best twenty or so minutes of live music I’ve been privileged to witness in a long long time. With three of the band exiting stage left, those who remained went into a set of jigs and reels that were almost Lizzesque. Pipes and flutes duelling with, and then playing in harmony with the guitar were nothing short of jaw dropping. The only thing lacking was a flame haired dervish dancing to it. Truly magnificent. Unfortunately, it was over all too quickly and with the rest of the band returning to the stage back we went into the neoFloyd stuff.

      As I’ve mentioned before, this was the first night of a month long tour and there were times when the drummer and the keyboard player were relied upon to hold it together, but on the whole, things seemingly went ok. I would like to give special mention to their lead singer (piper and guitarist too), Heather. She has an excellent voice and she’s not afraid to use it. Unfortunately, she seemed determined to try to outdo the original Great Gig In The Sky vocal at every opportunity. Of course, she failed. Her voice isn’t that good yet.

      I left the show a little disappointed. It all seemed a bit naïve really. However, the rest of the audience loved them. A lot of people had come from Yorkshire to see the gig. What I found most sad, however, was that The Wharf was maybe two thirds full. Yet the place has been packed out when the tribute bands come. It’s a sad reflection on the local gig going audiences when cover bands get more attention than an original band. Terrible.

      Try to catch Mostly Autumn on their way around the country. If you like the prog and pomp rock of the seventies and early eighties you’ll love ‘em. However, I wasn’t totally convinced. There is more than enough room to find a more original sound for themselves. However, they’ve not long been independent with their own label etc… so with time I think they’ll mature.

      Yeah, go on. Recommended.

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