Mostly Floyd

Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon

26 August 2004

Finally, after numerous changes of date, venue, and programme, and apparently warnings from the suits at EMI (!), "Mostly Floyd" appeared in their first (and, I would guess, their only) concert.

And despite some criticism of the whole concept (some thinking Mostly Autumn are becoming too closely tied to the "next Pink Floyd" tag), I have to say it was an outstanding success. The band seemed to enjoy it and the (pleasingly large) crowd definitely enjoyed it, and that's all that matters, isn't it?

The set opened with just Bryan and an acoustic guitar giving us Pigs on the Wing. From there the full band went through very powerful versions of Echoes, Fat Old Sun, Another Brick part 2, Sheep, Julia Dream, Hey You, Comfortably Numb (an occasional part of Mostly Autumn's live sets for as long as I've been seeing them), and Run Like Hell. The 75 minute set was rounded off with Bryan and an acoustic guitar reprising Pigs on The Wing.

So, how well did they do?

Well, to be fair, I've never seen Pink Floyd live, so I can't make a comparison. But I had absolutely no complaints about the way the songs were treated. They were generally faithful to the originals but obviously with some changes to suit Mostly Autumn's mix of instruments (three guitars, two keyboards, and five voices). But they stretched out in the solos and instrumental passages, very much in the style of Floyd's experimentation.

The lead vocals were passed between Heather, Bryan, and Liam. Heather did very little singing, actually; Julia Dream was the only thing she sang solo and the rest of the time she was just backing the two guys.

Liam was the star of the night, for me. Not only did he do a lot more singing than usual, he also provided all the slide guitar (I never realised how much slide guitar there is in Pink Floyd's songs), took several very nice solos, and did all the "weird" guitar effects (and it's fascinating for a non-player like me to watch his hands and see how you actually make those noises).

There were little things that told you this wasn't "home territory" for the band: everybody seriously concentrating over their instruments, the occasional uncertain moment or almost-missed cue, less stage banter than we're used to. But as far as I'm concerned, they did a damned fine job. Every song got a very positive crowd response and by the end of it the band looked deservedly happy with themselves.

After a short break, they came back to play a set of Mostly Autumn songs: Distant Train, Answer the Question, Spirit of Autumn Past (with a request for us to sing along — as if we were likely to do anything else!), Evergreen, Heroes Never Die, Passengers, Mother Nature. About another 75 minutes for that set, I guess.

Which set got the biggest response? Hard to say... but it was an audience of hardcore Mostly Autumn fans, so...

Well, lets just say that when requests were shouted out, it was all for Mostly Autumn, not Mostly Floyd.

Which set did I like best? Hard to say...

The Floyd songs were great to see live and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. But Mostly Autumn songs... well, I think Mostly Autumn write better songs than Pink Floyd did. Yeah, I said it, you can stone me now. But Mostly Autumn's songs touch me on a personal, emotional level in a way that Pink Floyd don't.

Conclusion: I think any Mostly Autumn fan would have loved this show, and if you didn't go you should be buying the DVD. I think hardcore Pink Floyd fans might be appalled at very idea of it... but I honestly don't think they could have found much to object to in the arrangement or execution of the music. Mostly Autumn are fans themselves: they're not going to do anything disrespectful to the Floyd. And it goes without saying that they're professional, accomplished musicians, easily capable of handling the material.