Mostly Autumn

The Crescent, York

16 December 2018

It wasn't sensible to go to this gig. After a long weekend of travelling, stopping off in York would mean getting home at two in the morning, with work the next day, and I've already seen Mostly Autumn twice this year, and they would probably play the same set, and...

So many sensible reasons to stay on the train and get home early.

And two reasons to get off:

1. Mostly Autumn.
2. Christmas show.

I've been doing the annual trip to see this show for over 15 years, and it's always the most magical night of the year. Mostly Autumn, in their home town, with a perfect mixture of beautiful music and Christmas fun. What could be better than that?

And as predicted, it's almost the exact same set that I've seen twice this year already. Starting with Sight of Day , the 15-minute epic from the last album that is every bit as complex, powerful, and ultimately uplifting as Mother Nature (which is played later in the set to remind me that, no, Mother Nature is still the best thing they've ever done).

From there, the set runs through a mix of newer and older material, maybe not the exact set list I would have picked, but perfectly showcasing the strengths of this line-up of the band. Chris gets to sing Silverglass and Changing Lives, and his unique voice (as well as unique songwriting skills) continues to add a new dimension to the band's sounds. Angela is singing louder and stronger and higher than Olivia, really noticable on (e.g.) parts of Mother Nature, and I wonder if Olivia is a little under the weather and holding back? But she's still as impressive as ever on showcases like Silhouettes or Tonight, so maybe it's just a matter of the mix or acoustics that makes her sound subdued in other places.

All the band looks happy, full of energy and enthusiasm, and of course musically flawless throughout. And the packed home crowd matches them in energy and enthusiasm (but perhaps not musicality) on the sing-along sections.

After the main set finishes with Heroes then Tonight, it's expected that they'll come back on and do the "Christmas encores", even though it's getting late and there's probably a looming curfew. And they do come back on, of course, but the first encore is Forever and Beyond, my favourite song from the last album. I can't express how much I love this song. I mean, ok, it's a copy of After the Goldrush (come on, I know you've all been maintaining a tactful silence about it, but you all know it's true, right?) but, particularly in the live arrrangement, it's beautiful, and energetic, and uplifting, has stunning chorused vocals, and a high whistle solo and how can you not love a song when Angela's playing a whistle solo?

I might even have been happy if that were the only encore, but the next surprise is Comfortably Numb, which they rarely do now but used to be a staple of the live set when I started seeing them way back when. The vocal dialogue alternates between Olivia/Chris and Bryan, Bryan's guitar solo might be his best of the night, and the massive double-time climax is, well, massive, in the way that Mostly Autumn does so well.

An even bigger surprise is Wish You Were Here, dedicated to Liam. A powerful arrangement, Bryan plays electric guitar, Chris plays the acoustic parts, and Olivia singing the middle section is her best moment of the whole night. And every person in the audience sings every word. Because that's what Mostly Autumn's audience is like.

And, listen, I know it's not politically correct to say this to an audience that can sing every word of Wish You Were Here, because we put our 60s and 70s idols on pedestals and consider everybody since to be in their shadows, but Mostly Autumn are every bit the equal of Pink Floyd. I am not kidding, this is not just the best band of the current generation, it's one of the best bands ever, full stop, no qualifying disclaimer needed.

Then there's Christmas hats, the usual fight between Bryan and Olivia over whether he's going to wear one or not (he wins), and Angela having the best hat as usual (it's black, and says "HUMBUG"), and we get I Believe in Father Christmas (sung by Bryan, and with bells and a flute solo) and A Spaceman Came Travelling (sung by Chris, with the entire room singing la la la la forever (except for Angela it's aaaaaaaaaaaa because did I mention how incredible her singing has been all night?)).


No, that's it. Best concert I have ever seen. Mostly Autumn's Christmas shows are the best thing ever, best atmosphere ever, best music ever, and everybody should go to one.

Best concert I, hold on, I said that already.