Mostly Autumn

Grand Opera House, York

1 December 2004

Sitting front and centre — perfectly in front of Heather's microphone — seemed like a good idea when I bought the ticket. But I forgot how high the stage is in the Opera House. Consequently, I have a very stiff neck today.

But a stiff neck is a minor price to pay for three hours of (mostly) Mostly Autumn music.

Yes, three hours. Acting as their own "support band", they played a fifty-minute set of Pink Floyd covers before taking a half hour break and playing just over two hours of their own material.

Set list... all the usual stuff, I'm not going to list it all, just everything you would expect, with a few surprises thrown in (first time I've heard The Return of the King done live; Shrinking Violet and Nowhere to Hide added back to the live set after what feels like a long absence).

The back projections were very effective; more understated than on the previous tour and consequently more effective — noticeable without being distracting.

The lights were stunning and a bit unusual. If they used front spotlights, they were lost in the overall effect from where I sat, but the band was strongly back-lit by sweeping coloured spotlights. From my position, it gave them a dramatic, shadowy aspect — like mythological figures (helped by them towering several feet above my head). Very cool, and one of the most effective uses of lighting I've ever seen at a gig. Visually, the band's shows are getting better and better.

Musically... well, it hardly seems worth mentioning how good they were. I've yet to see anything less than a perfect performance from them. This time, they seem to be reinterpreting the songs and slipping in new solos even more than usual. Songs that I've heard two dozen times manage to sound fresh, while still being flawlessly performed. (Hmm... ok, being completely honest, flawless until Bryan started to lose it a bit at the very end. I think that when they're playing a three-hour set they should probably water his beer or something...)

I'm not even going to pick out highlights. You all know what I like by now... and everything I like was there.

Sure, I could name plenty of missed songs that I wish were in the set. But, as Bryan says, with so much material there are some things you have to leave behind. The set was a good mix of songs from all the albums, so I'm not complaining at all.

Oh — I must relate a personal misfortune. I was on a very tight time scale for getting the last train home. Basically, I had to leave at 11pm. As they came on at 10.35 for the last encore, I was slightly nervous. But even at its most extended, Ive never known Mother Nature last over 20 minutes. So they extended it... and extended it... and... it finished at 11pm! Phew! And then they did another song! Boo! I had to leave, I hated to do it but, yes, for the first time in my life I left a gig early, and now I'm really regretting it. As I left the hall, the first few notes of something that sounded suspiciously like Fairytale of New York were in my ears. I should have just missed the train and slept in the park or something. Ah well. Never again.

As someone shouted from the audience — "You're too cheap. Should be forty pounds for a ticket." Damn right. I would consider that a bargain to see a show like this.