Tag Archives: Mostly Autumn

Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 – Part Two

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

For those who’s tastes run towards progressive rock and metal, Sunday was always going to be the day to be looked forward to the most. Continue reading

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Mostly Autumn, Bath Komedia

Angela GordonThis was a rather special gig. When multi-instrumentalist Anne-Marie Helder rejoined the touring band at the beginning of the year the band stated that there were a handful of shows she would not be able to do because of prior commitments. Then a few days before the show the band announced that former member Angela Gordon, who Anne-Marie replaced back in 2008 would be standing in for her for the two shows in Cardiff and Bath.

It was lovely to see Angela on stage with the band again. She just handled just backing vocals and flute, with rhythm guitarist Chris Johnson covering additional keyboard parts on the handful of songs where two keyboard players were needed to avoid holes in the sound. Angela’s distinctive voice gave the harmonies a different feel, something noticeable on “Evergreen”, a song that Olivia Sparnenn has long since taken and made her own.

Olivia SparnennThe setlist was the same as at Crewe a couple of weeks before. The first half was a mix of highlights from recent albums and standards from the early years. The flute showcase “The Last Climb” was naturally a highlight, with a very different solo from the one we’ve been used to. The first set ended with what has long been Olivia’s signature song, “Questioning Eyes”.

For the second half of the show the band played the new album “Dressed in Voices”. It’s one of the most musically ambitious records the band have ever made, the sort of album where the whole is far more than the sum of the parts, and benefits from being performed in its entirety. Which is precisely what they did. As at Crewe the songs come over very powerfully live. The whole thing packed a strong punch, but if I had to pick one standout it would be “Skin on Skin” with Alex Cromarty making his mark with some remarkable percussive pyrotechnics. It’s not often you can say that a drum solo was the high point of a set, and it’s certainly not the sort of thing you would have expected from a band like Mostly Autumn.

Alex Cromarty

This is a band currently at the top of their game, coming back very strongly after last year’s occasional wobbles. Mostly Autumn now play a couple of festival dates before returning for a further series of gigs in the Autumn.

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Mostly Autumn return to Crewe

Olivia Sparnenn at The Box in Crewe

Some photos of Mostly Autumn at The Box at Crewe. It’s a long time since Mostly Autumn have played in Crewe. The gigs at the long-closed Limelight Club always had a very special atmosphere, and The Box feels like that venue’s spiritual successor, a proper rock club rather than a nightclub that also hosts live music.

The band were on top form too, with the new album “Dressed in Voices” played in full and coming over powerfully live. The 2014 lineup with Anne-Marie Helder back in the band (for most gigs at least) and Chris Johnson replacing Liam Davison seems to have gelled well, and the band are firing on all cylinders again.

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Angela Gordon to guest with Mostly Autumn

Odin Dragonfly at Bilston Robin 2

Mostly Autumn have announced that Angela Gordon (seen here with Odin Dragonfly at Bilston) will be guesting for two shows this weekend as a stand-in for Anne-Marie Helder, who is unavailable due to prior commitments this weekend.

We’re really looking forward to this weekends gigs (details here) in Tavistock, Cardiff and Bath,  and are delighted to announce that our friend and former member Angela Gordon will be joining the band on stage at Cardiff and Bath – so good to see her back for a couple of shows.

As long-term fans will know, Angela played flute, keys and backing vocals with the band from 1997 throught to 2007, and appears on the first six albums.

The band go on to play the Resonance Festival in Balham on Thursday 31st July and then the Cambridge Rock Festival on Sunday August 10th.

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First bands for HRH Prog 3 announced

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugHRH Prog 3 have announced the first bands, including The Enid, Steeleye Span, Mostly Autumn, The Enid, The Reasoning and Touchstone.

Not totally convinced by the SF and fantasy actors as part of the event, and wonder what message that sends and what stereotypes it reinforces.

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Mostly Autumn – Dressed in Voices

Dressed in Voices“Dressed in Voices” is Mostly Autumn’s eleventh studio album, their third with Olivia Sparnenn on lead vocals, and the first concept album in their lengthy career. As Bryan Josh said at the end of last year, it was originally intended as a Josh & Co album, but a dark and intense concept came in from somewhere unknown and took on a life of its own.

That dark concept starts with a random spree killing of the sort which has sadly been all over the headlines and social media while I write this. But rather that delving into Steven Wilson territory by trying to divine the motivations of the killer, the album takes the point of view of a victim, whose only crime was to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are shades of Marillion’s “The Invisible Man” with the unnamed narrator as a disembodied spirit, and the middle section covering his growing up and coming of age is more a little reminiscent of Spock’s Beard’s “A Flash Before The Eyes”. The whole album is full of lyrical references to older songs, reinforced on at least one occasion with a short musical quotation.

Musically it’s a move away from the symphonic metal flavour that characterised parts of “The Ghost Moon Orchestra” in favour of what’s best described as a heavy, somewhat neo-prog approach. There are certainly echoes of parts of “Glass Shadows” and “Go Well Diamond Heart”, with some of the expected reference points of Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, and there’s some of the vibe of early 90s Marillion. But just when you’re not expecting it, the Celtic folk of Mostly Autumn past with flutes and whistles makes an appearance in the second half of the album, and there’s even a moment of Country & Western with the pedal steel guitar on “The House on the Hill”.

This is one of those albums where the whole thing, from the dramatic opener “Saturday Night” to the semi-acoustic coda “Box of Tears” flows as a single work that amounts to far more than the sum of the parts. Indeed, as with many of the best albums of this type, there are songs that don’t really work as stand-alone numbers but fit perfectly as part of a larger whole.

Now firmly established as lead vocalist after four years with the band, Olivia Sparnenn delivers another fine performance, if a little more restrained than on parts of the last album. But this time it’s Bryan Josh’s Stratocaster that’s the dominant sound through much of the record. It’s a very guitar-driven album, and you’re never that far away from one of his big soaring overdriven solos. Iain Jennings’ keys again provide the perfect instrumental foil, whether it’s swirling Hammond or delicate piano work, and new drummer Alex Cromarty impresses a lot, it’s his percussion that stands out in the instrumental break on “Skin on Skin”. The whole thing has a big wall of sound production that’s going to need the bands’ two guitars and two keyboard players to reproduce live.

The last few Mostly Autumn albums have all contained obvious highlights, but there have also been weaker numbers that let the records down. But there are no pocket watches or buggers than go up to eleven on this album; while it goes from full-on rock to passages of delicate beauty and back again there is no filler on this record at all. Many bands have burned out or lost their way by the time they get to this stage of their career, but Mostly Autumn have delivered what has to be one of the best albums of their 15 year career.

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Liam leaves Mostly Autumn

Mostly Autumn at The Komedia in Bath, September 2012

Announcement on the Mostly Autumn website.

Less than a week to the start of the tour and we are all very much looking forward to playing live again. Sadly I have to announce that Liam , due to very personal family circumstances has decided to bow out of Mostly Autumn, we wish him all the best for the future – it’s been a great ride my friend. As this was very much last minute we are delighted to announce that multi instrumentalist and vocalist Chris Johnson has joined the band in his place, Anne Marie, as you know will do all the shows when she is available which happens to be most of the shows this year.

Liam has been an unsung hero of the band for years, never in the spotlight, but making an important contribution to the sound. He will be missed.

On the other hand, it’s good to see confirmation that despite missing a few early gigs due to clashes with the tail end of Panic Room’s tour, Anne-Marie Helder will be back with the band for the majority of this year’s tour.

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Now Playing: For All We Shared

For All We SharedNowadays much of my music listening focuses on trying to keep up with all the new music that’s coming out, especially the stuff I’m reviewing. So it’s not often I sit back and listen of a much loved album.  Not nearly often enough, in fact.

With Mostly Autumn’s 1997 début, it’s so long since I last played it I’ve grown more familiar with the live versions of some of the songs from seeing the band on stage.

Mostly Autumn of 1997 were a very different band to the hard-rocking act of today, with celtic atmospherics a much bigger component of the sound. Bob Faulds’ electric violin is all over this record, as prominent as Bryan Josh’s guitar. It’s also the only album to feature Kev Gibbons on high and low whistles, adding to the celtic flavour, especially on songs like “Boundless Ocean”.

If you’re used to hearing the more recent live versions, “Nowhere to Hide” and “The Last Climb” sound quite different; the former is a lot softer than the guitar-driven hard rocker of their most recent tour. And “The Last Climb”, nowadays a showcase for Anne-Marie Helder’s flute, instead contains a lengthy violin solo. Also, in the light of what the band were later to become, it’s also notable that Heather Findlay only sings lead on a single song, “Steal Away”.

Ah yes, the jigs. There are three of them on the album, and it’s a reminder that in the early days they were almost as much a ceilidh band as a progressive rock one. They’re not the sort of thing the band indulges in nowadays, but numbers like “Out of the Inn” still featured heavily in live sets as late as 2006.

Perhaps the highlight is the album closer “The Night Sky”, one of the best of their “celtic Pink Floyd” numbers centering on Bob Faulds’ magnificent violin solo. It’s a song I’d love to hear them play live again; it made a brief appearance in the live set in early 2007, but they haven’t played it since.

Although they were to exceed it with later albums, this was a very ambitious début, especially when you consider that it came out at the height of Britpop, when the prog scene was at its lowest ebb. Its one flaw perhaps is that it’s too varied for it’s own good, with the folk jigs sitting uncomfortably alongside the Floydian epics. But a lot of the material has stood the test of time, with several numbers remaining live favourites, not least the now-traditional set closer, “Heroes Never Die”.

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Alex Cromarty joins Mostly Autumn

The Heather Findlay Band at The Brook, Southampton

Latest News from Mostly Autumn:

Mr Alex Cromerty has now become a permanent member of Mostly Autumn. We are all very excited about this, his drumming and percussion has proven to work extremely well with the band, drummers like Alex and Gavin are a rare thing to come by, the quality is first class. We would also, on this note, like to wish Gavin all the success for the future, it’s been a real pleasure my friend.

Alex had been playing drums with Mostly Autumn as a stand-in for much of 2013 while Gavin Griffiths had extensive recording and touring commitments with Fish, and Alex’ playing showed the drums were in safe hands. With Fish announcing further tour plans across Europe in 2014, it’s not a total surprise that Alex is joining the Mostly Autumn on a longer-term basis.

Mostly Autumn had already had more drummers than Spinal Tap back in 2007, and now they can add a further name to the list.

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Mostly Autumn announce 2014 live dates.

Mostly Autumn have announced their 2014 Tour dates.

We’re pleased to announce the 2014 tour dates…so far!!! Tickets are not on sale yet at all venues but it shouldn’t be long. We would LOVE to see you at one (or more!) of the venues.

The tour covers much on the country with dates from late May and early June, across July, and a lot more UK dates in October and December. It includes Scotland and Wales as well as visiting many favourite venues such as Bury Met, The Wharf in Tavistock and The Picturedrome in Holmfirth. There is also a date in Crewe for the first time in many years, at The Box.

No mention (yet) of the annual Christmas show at The Grand Opera House in York, which seems a surprising omission.

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