DVD Review: MOSTLY AUTUMN – Live At the Boerderij

Self Release [Release Date - Out Now]

This is the long awaited first live Mostly Autumn DVD release with Olivia Sparnenn at the helm on lead vocals and is a double disc set also available on CD (without the three bonus tracks and one of the encores) which stands as a perfect statement of where the band are at the moment and that is at the very top of their game.

Included in the DVD version is the complete set as recorded live at the Boerderij in the Netherlands on15th September 2012, due to a technical hitch on the sound side three numbers ‘King of the Valley’, ‘Never the Rainbow’ and ‘Changing Fast’ were only recorded by one camera and the monitor mix but they have been included to complete the show, of course not up to the quality of the rest of the material but still a welcome extra.

The packaging is excellent for both versions with generous photo booklets, and the bands special pre order deal for the DVD and CD set for a reduced price and with Bryan and Olivia signing the DVD cover was a great idea.

The Boerderij looks like an ideal venue to record a live show with a stage big enough for the mighty Mostly Autumn to spread out and work their magic, the show was part of ‘The Ghost Moon Orchestra’ tour and a large selection of the new material made this show along with of course bags of classics.

The show starts as is the norm these days with the rumble of the classic ‘Passengers’ album instrumental ‘Distant Train’ perfect for the job, and straight off the picture and audio quality look top notch and the stage lighting (very important in concert DVD’s) is really impressive and boy does our Andy Smith look cool in designer shades, next up Olivia’s arrival on stage for the atmospheric new album number ‘Unquiet Tears’.

As usual with Mostly Autumn two sets with a Tea (well Pint !”) break in between and highlights from set 1 include a sterling drumming display by Gavin Griffiths on the driving new rocker ‘Drops of the Sun’ with one of the bands catchiest choruses to date (also loved the fab green stage lighting for this number and ‘Ice’ a real gem with two distinct parts, the steady hypnotic beat of the first section and the heavier, charged up, emotion packed second section.

It goes without saying that ‘Evergreen’ also in the first set was as good as ever but then a good performance of this classic is as safe a bet as the sun rising.

Closing the first half is possibly Iain Jennings shining moment the masterful Breathing Space number ‘Questioning Eyes’ co written with Olivia and given a new lease of live in Mostly Autumn sets.

Set 2 and more of the same (thankfully) with if anything even better lighting as there appear to be laser like effects on the stage at times, the second helping thunders in with two of the biggest rockers in the bands arsenal ‘The Dark Before the Dawn’ and ‘Deep in Borrowdale’ before they take things down a notch with a brace of slower more spiritual numbers in ‘Passengers’ and the sublime ‘The Last Climb’ the latter of course with a starring role by Anne-Marie Helder on the flute.

Other highlights in act 2 are one of the best numbers from the latest studio album ‘Tennyson Mansion’ with its ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ sounding opening (on purpose as that line is used in the lyrics) and featuring one of Bryan Josh’s greatest ever solos,’The Last Bright Light’ one of the most mystical and spiritual pieces of music they have made.

Always a high point of any Mostly Autumn show and the main set closer these days rather than show closer was Bryan’s tribute to his father ‘Heroes Never Die’, always and understandably played with such passion.

For the encores a welcome return for the crowd sing-a-long favourite ‘The Spirit of Autumn past (Part 2)’ ( DVD only) a number I miss whenever excluded from the MA set, and here performed with Liam Davidson’s astonishing lead guitar intro.

The other encores include the beautiful, poignant and perfectly introduced by Bryan as “like a dance floor in the sky” ‘And When the War is Over’, soft delicate, very moving and Olivia’s vocal performance is simply exquisite.

Finally to close the show two tracks that point to the quality of this bands material as both appear as bonus tracks on the ‘The Ghost Moon Orchestra’ album, the short but sweet, acoustic in style ‘The Last Train’ and ‘Tonight’ which for me is good as anything they have recorded, beautifully structured chords, a gentle exquisite opening that builds, rocks and then it returns to the gentle side.

Well worth the wait and a show with repeat watch written all over it, the band giving it all and more, a masterclass of a rock performance and the bonus material is also well put together with an informative behind the scenes short film and an extensive photo gallery.
*****

Review by Andrew Lock


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