What a surprise. Mostly Autumn. one of my favourite bands do Gloucester !
When Mrs PW read it in the local rag I still couldn't believe it.
I mean, well, Gloucester isn't exacttly the Albert Hall is it ? Don't get me wrong Gloucester's Guild Hall is a good little venue and yeah, ok, Ash do it, but Mostly Autumn ?
The good thing about gigs like this is the wide spectrum they seem to draw ; my balding, greying pate was not out of place amongst the hippyish young ladies, prog metalheads and old father times. There was female interest on stage too ; my 15 year old stepson was somewhat dubious about attending a Prog gig until he realised this. Indeed he seemed highly amused as the (said in a posh voice) progressive rock group made an entrance at exactly 8.30.
Opening with 'Nowhere to Hide' with the newly engaged (to Fish) Heather Findlay on lead and tin whistle and wearing a very tasteful white clingy number they made a great start.
A number of questions had ocurred to me before this gig and now was the time to answer them it seems. Firstly how on earth would they all fit on stage ? Secondly, would they adapt their sound to suit the different accoustic of a venue surely far smaller than they were used to ?
The answers ? 1. With difficulty. 2. They made a damn good attempt.
The band were shoe-horned onto the stage with Bryan Josh on the left, standing in front of the bassist, Chris Johnson and Angela Gordon doing telephone boxes on the right. Gav Griffiths sat rather uncomfortably at the back of the stage behind the drum kit with Olivia Sparnen (wearing a very revealing black number) to his left. Heather Findlay got to float around in the middle.
Sound problems plagued the gig all night. The mixer guys didn't seem particularly concerned, but it made a good band sound poor.
I never heard a word Ms Findlay sung all night (until a partly accoustic version of Evergreen came along). Poor Andy Smith's bass was lost in the boom, piano sounded totally off key and only the wonderful synth and flute of Angela Gordon could make up for that. Bryan Josh had tuning problems too, his guitar licks nearly drowning everything else out.
I hate to say this, but Heather Findlay was off-key for 80% of the songs and Mrs PW swears blind Bryan Josh was too. Chris Johnson (although lacking the vocal talents of the aforementioned two) did a better job on his two excellent numbers, both marred by the sound difficulties mentioned earlier.
Grumbling apart the band made the best of a bad job ; Dreaming plus a good selection from the new(ish) album Heart Full of Sky mixed with older classics like Evergreen seemed a good choice. Overindulgent solo spots never materialised and the highlight of the performance had to be when Olivia Sparnen joined Heather Findlay at the front for a (racy) duet and a Purple-type vocal/guitar interplay with Josh that really didn't quite come off. The light show was subtle, rather than flashy, leaving photos rather muzzy but MA are indeed a pleasant band to behold in any light.
They finished around 11-ish, after a 20 minute interval halfway through) to repectful applause.
Good value - sound problems aside - for the (very reasonable) 13 quid entrance fee, Mostly Autumn are clearly a class act making the best they could of a very cramped stage although they may need to consider paring down the show for smaller venues.
Overall, anything less than 6/10 would be harsh, but when you consider that a prog act of this calibre had the balls to do Gloucester in the first place I shouldn't really have the brass neck to complain.
PussyWillow is the best distillation of the classic Tull formula, juxtaposing Anderson's gruff but expressive vocals and a strong, insistent melody bolstered by well-placed, crunchy guitar chords.