After much fanfare from Classic Rock Productions, the
day of the first big ĎVí show arrived. With
the promise of a huge lighting rig and assorted effects -
apparently used by Genesis themselves in the 1970ís and
80s, and consisting of
...48 moving lights, 36 Aircraft
landing lights, projection screens, 2 fog machines,
2 smoke machines, 2 motorized mirror balls.
along with a string quartet and, during the week preceding
the gig itself, the announcement of the presence of lasers,
the show promised to be both musically and visually
spectacular. Unfortunately, the pre-gig advertising did
not attract enough to sell out the venue and by closing
off the upper section of the venue to all but selected
guests, the promoters managed to make the lower section
feel full, though not oppressively so.
On stage, Mostly Autumnís equipment was arranged as per
usual with the keyboards of Iain Jennings and Angela
Goldthorpe to the right, the string quartet right center
behind clear Plexiglass shielding and the drums of Andrew
Jennings (Iainís bother and the bands latest recruit)
left center also behind the same sort of Plexiglass
shielding. Above the stage the lighting rigs looked
full, though not more so than normal.
As the venue lights went down, the sound of wind came
over the P.A. and Mostly Autumn made their way on stage to
open with the powerful Caught in a Fold before
bridging nicely into Something In Between. Perhaps
it wasnít quite as powerful and punchy an opening as the
one that they played at the Progeny Festival, at the same
venue last November, but then there was less for them to
prove in front of an audience of converts. The lasers made
their first appearance during the second number either
rotating or projecting a matrix-like web across the stage
and above the heads of the audience. This might have been
pretty innovative in the 1970s but in this age of video
games it was hardly revolutionary.
Another Life was the first opportunity for the
string quartet to get involved and they certainly enhanced
this particular tune during which Bryan Josh delivered
one of his immaculately phrased solos. The much vaunted
screen dropped down from the ceiling at this point and
resembled a prop which I vaguely remember seeing during
a Genesis show ages ago. Unfortunately the combination of
the screen and strong lighting made the images that were
projected upon it appear pale and indistinct while its
positioning interfered with those images which were
projected upon the second screen at the rear of the stage.
The special effects were thus something of a disappointment,
but then, after 30 years of attending gigs maybe Iím a bit
jaundiced in my views of such trickery. I was, after all,
there for the music anyway.
Heather Findlay explained that First Thought had
been inspired by the view that Bryan saw as he looked out of
his pram as a baby, before the band played the remainder of
the Passengers album, with the tracks
Distant Train, Answer The Question and the
closing Pass The Clock forming the musical highlights
and Troy Donockley appearing from time to time to add a few
unusual elements into the musical mix.
Following a ten-minute break, the musicians returned for a
second set that focused on their older material. The Night
Sky, so wonderfully well performed on the bandís Live
at York Opera House DVD made for a fantastic set opener.
Though there was no choir on this occasion, the extra touches
added by the string quartet and Troyís flute and Uilleann pipes,
all lifted this well above the ordinary with the section
featuring Troyís pipes bridging into Bryan Joshís guitar solo
proving to be, for me at least, the exceptional passage in an
evening of fine music.
The Spirit of Autumn Past also proved to be a big hit,
the crowd joining in and singing along with the band during the
chorus. Personal favourite Evergreen was amazing as usual,
with Heather Findlay revealing that the song had been inspired
by Bryanís mum Jean Taylor. Then, putting her top hat back on,
Heather announced "It's time to rock" and the band
launched into Never The Rainbow.
No Mostly Autumn gig is complete without Heroes Never Die,
dedicated as usual to Bryanís dad. I hadnít been paying too much
attention to the use of the props during this second set, but it
was difficult to miss the projections of news footage of spacemen
along with the faces of Robert Plant, the guys from Deep Purple and
made others, who presumably were all in one way or another, heroes
of the band members. To be honest the footage was once again a
little feint, but it was not of much consequence since the music
being played on the stage was so compelling.
Mother Nature is far from the "short bluesy
tune" that Heather described it as, in her introduction. It
is a powerful and fairly heavy tune, yet when played live it does
seem a tad over-long, in particular in the closing instrumental
section, which does seem to go on forever and certainly
appeared to do so, on this occasion.
With the clock desperately close to the venueís Saturday night
curfew of 9:45PM, there was no time for the band to go offstage,
so, no sooner had Mother Nature finished and the musicians
had turned to leave the stage than they had to immediately turn
around and begin the encore Ė a new and fresh interpretation of
Genesisís Afterglow. To describe how well it fitted,
one only needs to say that many of the audience assumed that it
was a new tune, though I can only presume that these people did
not see me (and many others) singing along with the words. Itís
strange how the lyrics to a tune one probably hasnít heard for
20 years are still deeply buried in oneís memory, and pop up again
in moments like these.
The efficiency with which venue security staff clear London
venues when the headline act has finished its show does rather
take the edge off the evening's entertainment, as one has no
time to savour the atmosphere before being thrust into the
cold night air. This night was sadly no different, and one
had little option than to retire to one of the local hostelries,
already overflowing with Saturday night drinkers, to share oneís
impressions of the evening with other concert goers.
Personally the presence of the lasers and light show was all
a bit peripheral and some of the laser projections on-screen
seemed to have no relevance to the rest of the show. However, the
films and projections that had been used at York the year before,
were extremly effective, particularly that used for Distant
Train and clearly the matching of films and effects
to the music is a work in progress. No doubt, they will be even
better at the next show or series of shows of this type.
When it comes to the musicians, the hours of rehearsal have
clearly paid off and even with a relatively new recruit behind
the drum kit, the band were supremely tight. The string quartet
was used sparingly and generally effectively, while the presence
of the multi-talented, multi instrumentalist Troy Donockley was
a fantastic bonus. His Uilleann Pipe playing was marvellous and
whatever instrument he chose, he somehow managed to enhance
the bandís sound.
Bryan Joshís singing and guitar playing was excellent as ever,
Heather Findlayís confidence seems to grow every time I see them,
while the equally excellent Liam Davidson and Angela Goldthorpe
often seem to slip into the background. It was therefore very
nice to see on this occasion that they received a bit more of
the spotlight and Liam even got to play a little solo of his own.
Full marks then to the band and their record company for aiming high
and trying to do something a little out of the ordinary. They may not
yet quite justify the comparison with Pink Floyd which has been
suggested in the press, but they certainly deliver a show that is
always excellent musically and one that continues to develop as
a visual feast.