In April 2009, Mostly Autumn hit the road with a short Spring Tour. I had the pleasure to see them at De Pul in Uden in The Netherlands (see concert review). Unfortunately, lead singer Heather Findlay couldn't join the band during that performance due to personal circumstances. Olivia Sparnenn had the difficult task to fill the gap Heather left behind. She replaced Heather the best way she could as everybody agreed after the show. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend one of those Spring Tour concerts with Heather singing the lead vocals.
However, sometimes you’re lucky and you get a second chance. Thanks to the wonderful live albums the band released at the end of 2009, I got an impression of what I missed earlier that year. On Live 2009, part I and Live 2009, part II, you almost get a complete Mostly Autumn-concert in your living room. Only the encores couldn’t be released due to legal rights, but luckily, you will certainly not miss the Genesis-cover Turn It On Again. For me this was the weakest song they performed then. All the other songs recorded are certainly a ‘must have’ for all Mostly Autumn fans and for those people, who want to get acquainted with this fantastic live band. I’m not going into details too far, but in general, the first album contains the simpler and radio-friendly sounding songs. During the first set, the band performed songs as Fading Colours, Caught In A Fold and Simple Ways, all songs to sing along with and easy to remember. Don’t get me wrong! These are all beautiful songs that I love to hear from time to time. The first disc also features the classics The Spirit Of Autumn Past, part II, Half The Mountain and Evergreen.
On the second album, prog heads can enjoy the more complex songs showing that Mostly Autumn are very much inspired by Pink Floyd. A good example is Carpe Diem with a wonderful guitar solo by Bryan Josh sounding as if David Gilmour is playing himself. Another fine song is the extended version of Never The Rainbow with a fine musical ‘dual’ between Olivia’s voice and Bryan’s guitar. I once compared it to Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) who fought their ‘musical battles’ on stage back in the seventies. The rendition of Above The Blue is very special with the gentle voice of Heather only accompanied by Iain Jennings on piano. She explains that this song means a lot to her after the death of her father and the birth of her son. Pocket Watch is a song originally dedicated to Richard Wright, keyboard player of Pink Floyd, who passed away in September 2008. An amazing version of Heroes Never Die dealing with the death of Brian Josh’s father finalizes the second disc and shows that this song still means a lot to Bryan. Some people already stated that this collection of live songs is the ultimate live release of Mostly Autumn. I partly agree with them, but one thing’s for sure: the line-up on both live albums is a strong one as I found out lately during their Christmas-gigs in The Netherlands (see concert review). Maybe I have to credit all band members, but I would like to mention Anne-Marie Helder above all. Music wise, she lifts the band to the high level that was very common at the time they became known in our country. She not only has a fine voice, but she plays keyboards, flutes, recorders and guitars as well. She does a lot of work on stage; she’s almost indispensable for the band. Bravo and a big hand for releasing this fine collection of live songs. A fine souvenir of a concert I never saw…
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen), pictures by Arthur Haggenburg
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