After nearly twenty years in the business, are Mostly Autumn maturing? Here's what we learned from watching the band last weekend.
Mostly Autumn, live in London
Venue: Islington Assembley Hall
"You suddenly appreciate the shadowy nature of the music, and the way it's built up as a symphony."
Olivia Sparnenn-Josh has made the band her own
After four years, the singer has finally emerged from the huge shadow of her predecessor, Heather Findlay. Her voice is stronger and more purposeful than it has seemed in the past, and when she addresses the audience, it's done with real confidence.
The idea of playing two sets works brilliantly
The band stride through some of the usual favourites during the first set. Tunes such as Drops Of The Sun, Never The Rainbow, The Rain Song and Nowhere To Hide (Close My Eyes) prove the Autumn catalogue is rich in quality. The second set showcases the whole of current album Dressed In Voices, a bold move, but the reaction to every song is exceptionally strong.
**Dressed In Voices is a masterpiece
The album is a dark, depressing conceptual piece, But it takes on an enlightened, added dimension onstage. You suddenly appreciate the shadowy nature of the music, and the way it's built up as a symphony. This is perhaps the best Mostly Autumn album so far.
The atmosphere in the second set relies on continuity
Such is the way each song on Dressed In Voices fits neatly together that the band deliberately avoid any banter between the songs. Well, apart from acknowledging B.J. Cole's guest appearance on the lap steel guitar during The House On The Hill. Mind you, it doesn't prevent outbreaks of applause at certain junctures, even though it jostles the momentum and the magic. And after a particularly stirring virtuoso drum rally, someone shouts out “Who's the drummer?” (For the record it's Alex Cromerty).
Where exactly do Mostly Autumn fit musically?
The band have always been regarded as the province of prog. And they remain in that area musically, But, they've also got a lot of melodic maturity about them. More than anything else, Mostly Autumn could be viewed as the natural successors to the Moody Blues. Tonight, really does point them in that direction.
They've a diehard following
The turn out here isn't huge, but nor is it embarrassing. It's mostly male, of a certain age. And the rapturous applause suggests these are mostly long time admirers of the band. But there is the obvious potential for them to step up a rank or two. With the right promotion, the musical talent and the stage personality are there for something much bigger.