Tag Archives: Mostly Autumn

Good on Mostly Autumn, confirming that this coming weekend’s gigs in Verviers and Zoetermeer are still going ahead despite the attacks in Paris.

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First they came for the cartoonists. And some people wrote ugly victim-blaming thinkpieces in response, preferring to denounce the victims than criticise the ideology of the murderers.

Then they came for the rock fans.

Like so many others on Friday night, I was at a gig. At the time the terrible events in Paris were happening, Mostly Autumn were playing at The Grand Opera House in York. In a dark coincidence they were performing the album “Dressed in Voices” in full, a concept album told from the point of view of a victim of a senseless massacre.

After the gig I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in a pub with several members of the band. Someone did mention that there had been some kind of terrorist attack at a gig in France, but details were still sketchy. It was only when I got back to my B&B and checked the news websites that the full scale of the tragic events in Paris became apparent. As someone who goes a great many gigs, that struck very close to home.

In a sense it was like an attack on a place of worship. It’s what you expect from a cult who regularly attacks mosques that belong to Islamic traditions other than their own during Friday morning prayers.

Terrible events like this bring out the worse in some people and the best in others. The usual attention-seeking blowhards are spouting predictably offensive things; I really do not want to hear what racists, Christian fundamentalists, militant atheists or the US gun lobby have to say and wish others would stop signal-boosting their garbage. The same goes for anyone who’s first instinct is to pin all of the blame on anyone else but the terrorists and their direct supporters. There’s plenty of other blame to go around from the neocons’ ill-conceived and incompetently executed wars to the postmodern left’s unholy alliance with radical Islamism. But it was neither neocons nor postmodernist academics who pulled the triggers on Friday night.

Life has to go on. If Europe becomes a meaner, more xenophobic and more authoritarian place, it will let terror have what it wants. There is great danger that bad actors such as the far right and the security-industrial complex will try to exploit this tragedy, but we should resist them. We must not give in to fear. But we also need to be able to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions about what sort of society we want to be, and exactly what we are prepared to do in order to protect it.

I haven’t enabled comments on this post, because I don’t have the emotional energy to deal with the drive-by trolls any post on this subject is likely to attract.

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Less than three weeks until Mostly Autumn play the Grand Opera House in York. If you’re travelling to the city, why not make a weekend of it and see Cloud Atlas at The Post Office Social Club the following night. Tickets from the Cloud Atlas Webstore.

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Mostly Autumn announce special guests and new live EP

Mostly Autumn have announced a Live Acoustic EP featuring Bryan and Olivia as a duo, recorded when they supported Steve Hackett last year.

They have also announced that they will be joined by Anna Phoebe on violin and Chris Backhouse on sax for their showcase gig at The Grand Opera House in York in November, as well as at the December Christmas show in Leamington Spa. The latter will also include a support set by Anna Phoebe.

But before then, the band hit the road this coming weekend, with shows in Crewe on Friday 23rd, Wath upon Dearne on Saturday 24th, Norwich on Sunday 25th and Southampton on Monday 26th. Full details on the Mostly Autumn website.

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Progzilla and their Problematic List

Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn at The Met Theatre in Bury, June 2007

Progzilla Radio have done a countdown of the Top 100 Modern Prog Classics.

Unfortunately, the list is, as the saying goes “problematic”.

While all lists of this nature are subjective and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, this one is especially bad. The way the same half-dozen bands appear multiple times suggests that the voters’ listening isn’t terribly broad; have Transatlantic really done that many classic songs?

Far worse is the near absence of women on this list. The sole song with a female songwriter and lead singer is Mostly Autumn’s “Shrinking Violet”. There is no mention of Magenta. Or Panic Room. Or any incarnation of Karnataka. There isn’t even room for anything from Kate Bush’ magnificent “Aerial”. And don’t say “Kate Bush isn’t proper prog” when the list has Radiohead on it.

When the competent but unremarkable Lifesigns, who have just one album to their name, can manage no fewer than three songs in a list that has no room for Magenta, Karnataka, Panic Room or Kate Bush, it’s hard not to conclude the list has very a bad case of sexism.

It’s true that progressive rock is still predominately male. But it’s not exclusively a boy’s club, especially in recent years. Look at the pages of Prog magazine, or the festival bills of events like HRH Prog or the Cambridge Rock Festival and you’ll see a significant proportion of bands with at least one woman in the band.

Therefore I have to conclude that a list of “greatest modern progressive songs” that’s 98% all-male bands is in fact a load of sexist bollocks.

(edit – Changed “compilers” to “voters” to make it clear it’s a listener’s list)

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Mostly Autumn, Bury Met

Angela Gordon at Bury Met

Mostly Autumn came to The Met in Bury for their third UK appearance of 2015. The multi-purpose arts centre is a contrast the rock clubs the band frequently play, but it’s a great venue, with excellent sound and always pulls a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd. There is a reason why they’re not the only band who have chosen the venue to record live albums.

Mostly Autumn have always been a band of constantly-changing lineups, and this tour was no exception. Angela Gordon is back for this run of gigs on flute, backing vocals and keyboards because of Anne-Marie Helder’s commitments with Panic Room clashing with the early dates of the tour. Angela was of course part of the band from the early days through to 2007.

The band are still promoting their 2014 album “Dressed in Voices” and playing the album in full. Last year they played a greatest hits set as the first half of the show, with the new album following after the interval. This time “Dressed in Voices” was the first set. Tonight was the first time drummer Alex Cromarty has played two-handed since his accident at HRH Prog back in March, and the set included his showcase number “Skin on Skin” which was once again a highlight of the set. Iain Jennings also excelled with some Ken Hensley style walls of Hammond on the heavier parts. As a concept piece the whole is more than the sum of the parts and the powerful and intense work benefits from being played in its entirety.

Olivia Sparnenn at Bury Met

Anyone expecting a predictable set of well-worn standards in the second half was in for a surprise, for the bulk of the set was material they hadn’t played live for many years. They kicked of with a belting version of the instrumental “Out of the Inn”, which begins as an acoustic flute showcase and ends as a barnstorming hard rocker. They included “Candle in the Sky”, an atmospheric epic from 2005′s “Storms Over Still Waters”, the multi-part “Pass the Clock”, “Hold The Sun” from “Go Well Diamond Heart”, a beautiful “Silhouette of Stolen Ghosts” from the Dressed in Voices bonus disk, and Chris Johnson singing lead on “Silver Glass”. But the highlight was a stunning “Hollow”, a ballad that had been a staple of Breathing Space’s live set, but never played by Mostly Autumn themselves for more than a decade. After all those deep cuts and rarities, they ended with the signature tunes “Evergreen”, “Questioning Eyes” and “Heroes Never Die”.

This was a set that emphasised the atmospheric celtic-progressive side of their music rather than the hard rock that had characterised Mostly Autumn shows of the recent past, and the choice of songs took advantage of Angela Gordon’s presence in the band by showcasing her flute playing. Shaking up the setlist in such a radical way was a bold move, but a very welcome one, and demonstrates the depth of the songbook after ten studio albums. Even if there was still the occasional rough edge on more complex numbers, it’s good to see them get out of the band’s and audiences’ comfort zones. The next gigs on the tour are at Edinburgh and Bilston on 6th and 7th of June.

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Cloud Atlas to play York in November

Heifi Widdop of  Cloud Atlas at Fibbers, York

Cloud Atlas will be playing a home town headlining gig at The Post Office Social Club in York on Saturday 14th November. The support act will be Chris Helme of Seahorses fame.

This is the day after Mostly Autumn’s showcase gig at The Grand Opera house, which is all the more reason for travelling fans to make a weekend of it.

If you can’t wait until then to see them, they’re also playing an acoustic show supporting the always excellent Jump at the Wesley Centre in Maltby on 25th April, and headline shows in Norwich and Bilston Robin 2 in July and August. Full details of these on the Cloud Atlas gigs page.

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HRH Prog 3

Jessie May Smart of Steeleye Span at HRH Prog 3HRH Prog is now in its third year, and it’s second at Hafan-Y-Mor, the former Butlins holiday camp just outside Pwllheli in north Wales.

Pwllheli is a long way from anywhere, at the far end of a winding single-track railway line, and the train stops many, many times at little request stops where the train might only stop if you know how to pronounce the station. So by the time I finally got there after a whole day’s travelling I missed the opening band. But I did catch most of The Dream Circuit’s set, with a space-jam sound that owed a lot of Ozric Tentacles.

Knifeworld were the most eagerly anticipated band of the Thursday night. They opened with a brand new song which Kavus Torabi dedicated to his great friend, the late Daevid Allen of Gong. With his white and gold Gresch guitar, Torabi looks most un-prog, but with it’s Zappa-style horn orchestrations, psychedelic soundscapes and layered vocal harmonies the music is as progressive as it gets. There were one or two who didn’t ‘get’ what they do, implying they’re not “proper prog”, but it’s their loss. Knifeworld are the real thing.

Thursday headliners The Skys, hailing from Lithuania had a far more traditional prog sound, but were very good at what they did. They displayed some strong Floydian atmospherics at times, with a harder-rocking edge at others. They had a great keyboard sound with big washes of Hammond, and one guitar solo in particular was brain-melting.
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Mostly Autumn Full 2015 Tour Dates

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at the 2014 Cambridge Rock FestivalMostly Autumn have now announced their tour dates for the remainder of the year, taking in venues across the country over the summer and autumn, culminating in four special dates at the end of the year, extended shows that will include “Dressed in Voices” as well as a revival of the Pink Floyd Revisited set from a decade ago.

These four dates include a return to York Grand Opera House, this time on Friday 13th of November, and a special Christmas show at The Assembly in Leamington Spa on Sunday 13th December.

The latter will be the only Christmas show this year, and features an extended bill running from 4pm to 10pm, with details to be announced. Since it’s difficult to imagine Mostly Autumn playing for six hours there will presumably be other bands on the bill.

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Mostly Autumn announce first live dates for 2015

Some gig announcements from Mostly Autumn.

More dates are to be announced later in the year.

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