Mostly Autumn - 'That Night In Leamington'

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Mostly Autumn - 'That Night In Leamington'

Captures the power and the subtleties of a really talented octet.

Friday 2nd April 2010 was a monumental date in the history of Mostly Autumn; it was the final performance to involve their iconic singer (and so much more), Heather Findlay, after a 13-year tenure of the role. The remarks that follow are therefore not aimed at the MA cognoscenti and close fans of the band, for this double CD set will have been purchased by them immediately upon release earlier this year. Indeed, many will have been in the audience on that night in Leamington Spa. No, what I have to say is aimed fairly and squarely at everyone else!

You might, like me, not be a great fan of live albums and Mostly Autumn have released quite a few. You may also have found, as I had done, some of the more recent studio albums by the versions of the band containing Heather to be somewhat more variable in content and quality than their early, classic, output. Both factors might, as a consequence, lead you to feel that there is no need for you to add this release to your collection. Thus, it is therefore my duty to ask you to think again, because 'That Night…' is one of the finest live recordings by a band in my extensive music library, featuring a band performing as if their lives depended upon it and responding to the highly charged atmosphere pervading the Assembly Rooms.

You do not really need me to tell you that splendid versions of many of their iconic songs are featured here including: 'Fading Colours', 'The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part 2)', 'The Last Bright Light', 'Passengers', 'Winter Mountain', 'Half The Mountain', 'Mother Nature', 'Heroes Never Die', 'Evergreen'…but also included are some of their perhaps less prominent but nevertheless engaging numbers including 'Caught In A Fold', 'Flowers For Guns' 'Simple Ways', 'Carpe Diem', 'The Dark Before The Dawn' and the dreamy 'Above The Blue'. There is also a magnificent 10-minute version of their iconic song 'Shrinking Violet', a live favourite for more than ten years. The second disk concludes with a short, and remarkably restrained and unemotional farewell from Heather…No one would have blamed her for crying her heart out!

Famously described as a "proggish folk" band by one writer, it really matters very little what genre description might appropriately be applied to Mostly Autumn, for they have a wide-ranging canon of music that crosses many styles and suits many moods and circumstances. Comprising eight players and with a wide array of instrumental capabilities, the MA sound is shown here to be both rich in texture and varied in application. This last show to feature Heather captures the power and the subtleties of a really talented octet, and comes across as a total triumph.

Paul Jerome Smith

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