Mostly Autumn

Dec 18, 2011 - De Lakei, Helmond (NL)

On an annual basis the British prog band Mostly Autumn crosses the Channel to wish their Dutch friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year by giving a number of special performances. People who have attended these Christmas shows won't ever forget the magic moments during these shows. I witnessed many of them and afterwards I always went home with a big smile on my face and a happy feeling in my heart. The last time I saw the band perform was two years ago; at the time lead singer Heather Findlay was still fronting the band.

Olivia Sparnenn dressed for Christmas
This year Mostly Autumn gave three concerts in The Netherlands. I visited the last one at Lakei in Helmond. This time new lead singer Olivia Sparnenn fronted the band and she led the audience to the ultimate Christmas party at the end of the show. Once more this party was held during the encores featuring several excellent performed covers of Christmas songs like I Believe In Father Christmas (Greg Lake), Fairytale Of New York (The Pogues) and Merry Christmas Everybody (Slade) of which the latter was sung by guitarist Liam 'Noddy' Davison. He invited two women from the audience to join the band on stage to be additional 'backing singers'. However, in my opinion the most beautiful cover was Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland). The way Olivia sang this famous tune was just breathtaking and moving. During this song she was musically supported by Anne-Marie Helder (backing vocals) and Iain Jennings (keyboards), who both did an outstanding job as well.

Before the audience could enjoy these great Christmas surprises, the band treated their fans to a fantastic live show that featured principally true progressive rock tunes and only few mainstream numbers. They had picked out a lot of classical pieces like Evergreen, he Dark Before The Dawn, The Last Climb, Passengers, Heroes Never Die, The Last Bright Light and The Spirit Of Autumn Past, part II. All these tracks demonstrated the strong influence Pink Floyd had on the band. The latter track contained an excellent improvised guitar intro played by Mr. Davison. It was kind of a surprise that Evergreen was the third track of the set list. Mostly we can enjoy this marvellous piece towards the end of the regular set.
Bryan Josh
Also the opening tune Distant Train was slightly unexpected. However, it's a wonderful instrumental track dominated by the keyboards of Iain Jennings and Anne-Marie Helder. This piece is a great vehicle for an excellent guitar solo played by Bryan Josh just as he did on the rather new classic tracks Go Well Diamond Heart, And When The War Is Over... and Questioning Eyes, originally a song by Breathing Space. Especially during the latter Olivia Sparnenn showed what a good singer she is! This stunning piece just left me speechless!

After the show I was speechless as well. As far as I can tell, the band played one of the strongest Christmas shows ever on a Dutch stage. All musicians did their utmost and were in great shape. During the performance Bryan and Olivia regularly showed that they love the Dutch audience. They also said that the next DVD-recording will take place in September 2012 at Cultuurpodium Boerderij in Zoetermeer. This was appreciated by the fans and it's really something to look out for. Hopefully this DVD will be available before the next Dutch Christmas show. Finally I want to thank the people responsible for the fabulous sound during this two and a half hours performance of Mostly Autumn!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


Distant Train
Answer The Question
Deep In Borrowdale
Something Better
The Last Climb
Questioning Eyes
Hold The Sun
The Dark Before The Dawn
Go Well Diamond Heart
Half The Mountain
The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part II)
The Last Bright Light
Forever Young
And When The War Is Over...

Heroes Never Die
Over The Rainbow
I Believe In Father Christmas
Fairytale Of New York
Merry Xmas Everybody

Pictures by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Bryan Josh:
electric guitar, lead and backing vocals
Andy Smith:
bass guitar
Olivia Sparnenn:
lead & backing vocals, percussion and acoustic guitar
2 guests (from audience)
Liam Davison:
backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitar
Anne-Marie Helder:
backing vocals, keyboards and flute
Gavin John Griffiths:
Iain Jennings:

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