Saturday, 6th December 2014
The Robin2, Bilston, Wolverhampton, the UK
Article by Martin Burns
and photos by Caitlin Burns
It was nice to be at a prog gig at this venue on a Saturday night.
The people who run the prog friendly Robin2, told me that they usually schedule prog gigs on Sundays because they
can make more money from tribute acts on Friday and Saturday nights.
The economic realities of trying to make money from music in the 21st century,
doesn't just affect the musicians involved.
In a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, Mostly Autumn receives a warm welcome from a more than half-full Robin2 crowd.
They kick off with Deep in Borrowdale from Go Well, Diamond Heart, and it is soon clear that Mostly Autumn are a formidable live unit.
This seven-piece band, fronted by husband and wife, Bryan Josh (vocals, guitars) and Olivia Sparnenn-Josh (vocals, percussion),
are really just the most visible aspect of Mostly Autumn.
In fact, the other five musicians Iain Jennings (keyboards), Andy Smith (bass), Chris Johnson (rhythm & acoustic guitars),
Anne-Marie Helder (flutes, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals) and Alex Cromarty (drums), add vital layers of sound,
texture, rhythm and feel which is more than just a backdrop for the emotional singing and guitar playing of the main songwriters.
You can tell from the off that this is a tour honed band, with all the players relaxed,
precise and on top of their game.
With both main singers in fine voice and the contrast between Bryan Josh's gruffer,
bluesy singing style and Olivia Sparnenn-Josh's mellifluous but strong tone, make an ideal pairing. They are more than ably
supported vocally by Panic Room/Luna Rossaís Anne-Marie Helder.
The gig is structured in an engaging way that draws in long standing fans and newcomers alike.
The first part features songs from Mostly Autumnís debut up to 2012ís The Ghost Moon Orchestra.
Highlights include the piano and flute ballad The Rain Song,
the brilliant Gilmouresque guitar of Evergreen, and the Helderís flute solo in The Last Climb. The lovely ballad,
Questioning Eyes, from Iain Jennings' and Olivia Sparnenn-Josh's other project The Breathing Space,
closes the first part.
After a short break Mostly Autumn return to perform in its entirety their new(ish) album Dressed in Voices.
This is a stark concept album, about the fallout from the murder of a person.
The audience is well up for this and respond to its dark emotions and passions.
The band have the fire of belief in this material and if anyone in the audience were not convinced by the recorded version,
they were certainly won over by the end of this live performance.
Mostly Autumn soon return for encores,
one of which is the old favourite Heroes Never Die which goes down a storm.
Then in a spirited, good humoured bonhomie the band don Christmas hats and tinsel for three Christmas themed songs.
The first is an excellent rendition of Let It Go from the Disney animation Frozen.
They follow this with an audience sing-along to Chris De Burgh's A Spaceman Came Travelling,
before closing the evening with Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas.
It was a joyful conclusion to a gig with a deep, dark centrepiece.
Over the course of three hours we had it all, lovely singing, fret-wrangling of the highest order,
a soaring flute solo and not forgetting understated but magisterial keyboards and rock solid rythym playing.
Not a wrong step through out. Mostly Autumn catch them whilst they are hot!
Deep in Borrowdale
Drops of the Sun
Never the Rainbow
The Rain Song
The Last Climb
No Where to Hide (Close My Eyes)
First Day at School
Down by the River
Skin on Skin
The House on the Hill
The Last Day
Dressed in Voices
Box of Tears
Heroes Never Die
Let It Go
A Spaceman Came Travelling
I Believe in Father Christmas
Mostly Autumn Official Website
The Robin 2