Mostly Autumn

Grand Opera House, York

28 November 2008

The Opera House is a superb venue and there is no such thing as a bad seat in it. So I got tickets about 12 rows back, because I've been in the front row at the Opera House and all you get is a stiff neck, and from further back you get a perfect view and a perfect sound and you don't have to worry so much about if you're on the right side of the stage.

And the sound was perfect. And the view was fine. And the lights were beautiful—but probably could have done with more follow-spots, as Heather and (to a lesser extent) Bryan were the only two properly illuminated and the rest of the band were gloomy shadows.

To answer the most important question, here is who was in the band (according to who joined the group bow at the end):

Bryan (vocals, guitar)
Heather (vocals, guitar, tambourine, shaky-egg-thing, bells)
Andy Smith (bass)
Henry Bourne (drums)
Liam (vocals, many guitars)
Olivia (vocals, shaky-egg-thing, bells)
Anne-Marie (vocals, keyboards, flute, guitar)
Iain Jennings (keyboards)
Troy Donockley (vocals, uillian pipes, low whistle, guitar, high whistle (I think))
Chris Johnson (vocals, guitar)
Angela Gordon (vocals, flute, high whistle)
The Judge (didn't play anything)
Baby Harlan (didn't do anything except look mystified)

Set list... ok, songs played but not in any kind of order because I'm rubbish at set orders:

Close My Eyes
Spirit of Autumn Past
(1 & 2)
(I don't think they played a single song from The Last Bright Light, which surely can't be right...)
Answer the Question
Simple Ways
First Thought
(haven't heard this for years)
Carpe Diem (Troy on pipes) (Heather astonishing)
Broken Glass
Fading Colours
(opened the set)
Pocket Watch (new arrangement)
And most of Glass Shadows. Something like:
Flowers for Guns
Unoriginal Sin
Tearing at the Faerytale
Above the Blue
(Heather perfect)
Until the Story Ends
A Different Sky
Whoops, nearly forgot Caught in a Fold.
I Believe in Father Christmas (closed the first set).
Finlandia (Troy and Iain, filling time while Heather made her second costume change) (I'm pretty sure it's Finlandia, at least a theme borrowed from it, but it's hard to recognise on these instruments so I could be wrong). (Heather changed twice and they are probably the three best outfits she has ever worn, for those of you who keep track of such things.)

Did they sound all rusty and under-rehearsed? No of course they didn't! It's only been five months, most bands routinely rest longer than that between tours. Heather sounded as perfect as ever—she's only had a baby! Everyone looked and sounded great. Some things may have been a little...loose...but, first gig of a tour, I've heard bands that sound FAR worse than "loose", and loose is good...loose just means things working in interesting ways, and ridiculous announcements between songs, and a brilliant atmosphere and on-stage chemistry that's just...the best thing about Mostly Autumn.

And Heather looked so happy and sounded so comfortable, it seems obvious that she loves being where she is and any speculation about retirement or whatever can stop right now.

Heather is my favourite singer in the whole world, in case I haven't mentioned that.

Ok, so.

I don't do Christmas in November. I love Christmas but November just isn't right. So I close my eyes and hurry past decorations, I don't buy presents yet, I don't listen to Christmas music yet. It's just not right.

But Mostly Autumn always do a Christmas show in York, and it seems to creep earlier and earlier each year. And now it's in November. So I swallow my bah humbugs when they play I Believe in Father Christmas (because they do it so beautifully).

And the best part was the encore.

Angela and Chris came on and everybody sang Silent Night.

Then everybody put on silly Christmas hats (I hope there are pictures of this somewhere) and they played Fairytale of New York, best Christmas song ever. I suppose I should mention in passing (I wasn't intending to make a big deal of it) that it featured a long flute duet between Anne-Marie and makes it really noticeable that they have totally different sounds, it's really easy to pick out which is which. Anyway, probably the best moment of any concert I have ever seen.

Ok, where have I got to?

The last song was Merry Xmas Everybody, Liam singing it in the (now) traditional manner, and with every single guest on stage.

And that's about it, I could write more but I've said it all before.

I still love this band.

Best early Christmas present I've ever had.

Bah, humbug. Not.

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