Mostly Autumn

Blakey Ridge Music Festival

22 July 2004

There seems to be an accepted wisdom among rock bands that you come on playing your hardest, fastest song in order to hook the audience and set the atmosphere. Not Mostly Autumn. They start their show with the The Night Sky: soft, beautiful, and very appropriate to the setting. And that's why I love this band.

And three hours of music follows. Yes, three hours all but a few minutes. I've never seen them play such a long set. And what a superb set. I don't think I could have asked for anything better. I can't give the full set list, I'm rubbish at remembering details like that, but it included several things I haven't heard them do in a long while: Out of the Inn, Shindig, and (oh, joy) Which Wood?. In fact, it was a Divinely flute-heavy set, and that's guaranteed to make me happy...

Everybody on stage was relaxed and happy, smiling and joking, and very dynamic. They seemed more comfortable than on the recent tour and it worked to give the concert a great atmosphere.

Yes, I have seen them give more polished performances. Maybe they were a bit too relaxed at times, but it was one of those occasions when the atmosphere and energy more than made up for a few dodgy moments. And, lets face it, even a below-par performance from these guys is still streets ahead of any of their contemporaries. Though I'm going to point the finger at Bryan in Mother Nature: what did he think he was doing? His guitar was all over the place and when he sang he seemed to be making up his own tune as he went along. Heather had to turn her back on him and plug her ears to sing her part (and I'm convinced Andrew was hitting his drums extra-hard to drown out the guitar sound). Ah well, it was bizarre but it didn't detract from the overall show.

Blakey Ridge is a wonderful venue for Mostly Autumn. Miles from civilization, outdoors under a cloudy sky, it seems tailor-made for the band's music. I can understand now why people have been raving about this annual event for so long. I'm glad I finally made the trip to see it.

Unlike the earlier bands on the bill, Mostly Autumn had the luxury of playing in full darkness (they came on stage a few minutes after ten), allowing them a beautiful light show. The stage was large enough to fit them comfortably with room for plenty of movement and the PA is loud enough to make a satisfyingly loud show without losing any clarity in the sound. (I'm not sure if this was true for those further back but from where I was the sound was crisp and well-balanced.)

Oh, and did I mention the fireworks at the end?

And it rained, of course. But I didn't care. It was the best concert I have ever seen.