DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Mostly Autumn - 'Live At The Boerderij' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 08, 2014    
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A wonderful band - and a terrific DVD package.

Knowing what a perfectionist Bryan Josh is, I can well imagine the utter frustration he felt when having decided to capture Mostly Autumn's gig at The Boerderij on 15th September last year for a DVD release – their first since Heather Findlay departed and Olivia Sparnenn took over as lead female vocalist – that technology decided to intervene.

There are three tracks from the first set of the gig ('King Of The Valley', 'Never The Rainbow' and 'Changing Fast') that only appear as "extras" on the first disc of this two DVD set and do not appear on the parallel CD release at all. This is explained on the DVD: "Three songs into the concert the Pro Tools rig...decided to crash. As a result three songs weren't recorded...there was no multitrack audio mix for the DVD. Fortunately the video cameras were more reliable. Rather than waste perfectly good footage of three great performances we decided to include them as bonus tracks using the reference audio recorded by one of the cameras and by the monitor mix..." An excellent decision, and a great rescue act!

If you have not recently been to an MA gig, or have never seen them at all, then I do have to implore you to investigate this DVD package (unless you are not partial to bands with female vocalists). You will see a band right on the top of their game, clearly enjoying their work, and presenting timeless rock music that while it is now heavily focused upon the last two studio albums ('Go Well Diamond Heart' and 'The Ghost Moon Orchestra'), still packs in some of their landmark earlier songs such as 'Passengers', 'Evergreen' and 'The Last Bright Light' – on which Livvy sings her heart out: as if they were her own.

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The camera work and overall presentation of the DVD is absolutely tremendous, with superb up-close views of individual band members, especially of Anne-Marie Helder (whether playing flute, keyboards or providing her exceptional backing vocals), Gavin Griffiths (whose sublime drumming is technically precise, and has grown in stature over the 13 years since I first saw him play with Karnataka), and Bryan Josh: especially where we get close-ups of him using an EBow, but all of the members of the band are shown to full effect.

Two aspects of the show I really must finally comment upon. Firstly, Liam Davison. His persona is as the quiet man of the band, playing rhythm guitar and stood fairly statically between Griffiths and Helder. However, he takes centre stage at the beginning of the encore where he demonstrates what a superb guitarist he really is, on 'The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part 2)' – and could stand in for Brian Josh any day. The other is the inclusion of 'Questioning Eyes' at the end of the first set; originally a Breathing Space (the band featuring Livvy and keyboardist Iain Jennings) song, Mostly Autumn have adopted it as their own: and it is absolutely stunning!

A wonderful band – and a terrific DVD package!

Paul Jerome Smith

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