Mostly Autumn and John Lawton,
Saturday 25th May 2002
The Mean Fiddler, London, UK

By Charlie Farrell


Mostly Autumn have turned into one of the UK's hardest gigging bands and this was the 2nd time that they had played at this London venue since the beginning of 2002. Only 2 days before the gig I read that the joint headliner John Lawton (ex-Uriah Heep) was to have his show filmed for DVD and the idea was that Mostly Autumn would be filmed too.

Having been at the show in June 2001 at which the band's current DVD The Story So Far was filmed, I was hopeful of a long show, but in actual fact, both acts were allowed to play the same length of set (around 75 minutes) restricted, as usual, by the venue's closing time of 10PM on a Saturday evening.

Show flyer

John Lawton came on stage at 7:15PM with a 6-piece band and though he apparently played a number of Heep tunes I can't say that I recognised any of them. The bulk of the set was made up of his own material, which were pleasant enough mid-paced rock songs. Mostly Autumn's keyboardist Iain Jennings helped out in the band while several others (Bryan Josh, Jonathon Blackmore and Andy Smith) watched the gig from the bar above the stage.

Mostly Autumn had been expected on stage at around 8:30PM, but at this time John Lawton's set was just about coming to a close. A few adjustments to the drums and microphones were completed in record quick time and so Mostly Autumn were barely 15 mins behind schedule when they came on stage. They opened with a couple of tunes from the Music inspired by the Lord of The Rings. While Forge Of Sauron is quite a dark, heavy tune I felt that it didn't quite have the energy of their usual set-openers and it wasn't until the 3rd number, the rousing Darkness Before The Dawn, that the gig sprang to life for me.

The Mean Fiddler is situated directly beneath a much bigger venue, the 3000 capacity Astoria theater. Now I have been at the Mean Fiddler on nights when Motorhead have been playing in the Astoria and not heard a thing, but on this occasion the popular Ska-punk outfit SPUNGE were playing to a very youthful audience in the same venue. The kids must have been having a great time, because they really made the place shake. The lighting rig above the stage shook from the vibrations caused by the crowd and the noise of the rattling was quite off-putting, spoiling some of the quieter moments of Greenwood The Great and the quieter songs which followed. Hardly ideal conditions in which to film for a DVD, but hopefully some parts of the performance will be usable in some format.

In the pause that followed Darkness Before The Dawn, the band welcomed the crowd and peered uneasily at the lighting rig shaking above their heads. "This really is very mysterious", said guitarist Bryan Josh. "Perhaps its the Spirit of Autumn Past" ventured Heather Findlay as the band, without further ado, launched into that very number, taken from their 2nd album.

The following tune Evergreen, from the same album is still my favourite tune of theirs and was tear-inducingly beautiful as usual. After this, the band then went back in their catalogue to their very first disk For All We Shared for The Last Climb. It was the very first time I'd ever heard the song and it definitely had a very appealing Pink Floyd vibe to it.

They then treated us to a couple of their neat Celtic instrumentals which give Vocalist Heather Findlay an opportunity to play the whistle and recorder and for Angela Goldthorpe to enchant us with her flute playing, before they played a beefed-up Never The Rainbow, after which they threw us another curve-ball in the shape of Noises From My Head. This is a tune which apparently appeared as a bonus track on a version of their 3rd album The Last Bright Light, and which also appears in re-vamped format on their new Anthology disk. Unfortunately, I have to say that I found it rather bland and uninteresting.

However they saved the very best for last in the form of stage favourites Shrinking Violet and Heroes Never Die which contain all that is good about this band: great musicianship, wonderful emotion-filled vocals and blindingly impressive guitar. Stunning!

The band have come on a great deal since the very first time I saw them at this venue, supporting Jadis. They now have great confidence on stage and deliver an impressive powerful show which most rock and prog fans could not fail to enjoy.

Setlist:

Forge Of Sauron
Greenwood The Great
Darkness Before The Dawn
Spirit of Autumn Past
Evergreen
The Last Climb
Shindig/Haste To The Wedding
Never The Rainbow
Noises From My Head
Shrinking Violet
Heroes Never Die

 

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