Mostly Autumn came to Sub89 in Reading on Thursday. For a band I’ve travelled all over the country to see over the past few years, this was the first time they’ve played my local venue, and it felt strange to be able to walk to one of their gigs.
Support was five-piece The Room, playing a short but sweet set with one foot in the melodic rock camp and the other in neo-prog, showing strong songwriting and some impressive lead guitar work. I’d like to hear more from this lot.
Mostly Autumn put in a strong performance with Bryan and Olivia both on very good form, before a very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. The setlist was more or less the same as earlier in the year, opening with “Winter Mountain” and “Never The Rainbow”, with the whole set emphasising the hard rock side of the band’s music. “Unquiet Tears”, first of the newer numbers came over very strongly. As has been apparent to anyone who’s seen the band over the past couple of years, Olivia has made older standards like “Evergreen” and “Passengers” her own, while the newer songs show the remarkable power and range of her voice. “Questioning Eyes” never fails to tug at the heartstrings, and she pulled out all the stops on “Wild Eyed Skies” and the final encore “Tonight”.
Hannah Hird’s backing vocals as the replacement for Anne-Marie Helder were excellent, although I can’t pretend I didn’t miss Anne-Marie’s flute playing and strong stage presence. The absence of the flute part was obvious in one or two places, and I can’t help feeling that it would have been better to rest songs like “The Dark Before The Dawn” in favour of newer songs from “Ghost Moon Orchestra” as long as the band are without a flute player.
Although it was still a very enjoyable gig, it didn’t quite reach the levels of power and intensity of some of their best shows over the past two years. The slightly mushy sound probably didn’t help, and the chopping and changing the lineup over the first half of this year may have cost the band a bit in terms of momentum. For this weekend’s run of three gigs the band’s regular drummer Gavin Griffiths returned to the drumstool because this year’s temporary replacement drummer Alex Cromarty had other commitments. Both of them are superb drummers, of course, but stability has it’s benefits.
The band should have a stable lineup for the remainder of 2013, and return with an ambitious programme of gigs over the second half of the year, with quite a few of the higher profile shows featuring the talented Chantel McGregor as special guest.