The live sequences are interestingly varied, and are on
the whole excellent. The DVD opens with "Overture (Forge
of Sauron)" and "Greenwood the Great" from the Mean Fiddler,
London in Spring 2002. I was at this performance, and it
was marred by a mysteriously shaking lighting rig, caused
by the band playing upstairs in the Astoria, which set the
band on edge. Thankfully, the surviving footage is of good
quality, as is this opening performance, particularly thanks
to a lovely vocal performance from Heather, full of warmth
After a brief and rather awkward looking interview sequence
of a totally drenched band in the Borrowdale valley, in the
delightful Lake District area of England, the DVD cuts
straight into a video sequence of the band miming to "The
Gap is Too Wide." The scenery is lovely (as is Heather
Findlay!) but the image of Brian launching into a mimed
guitar solo standing next to a tree, I am afraid, doesn’t
really work for me.
A brief sequence of the band talking about their trip to the
USA later in the year, is followed by two live performances
from the concert in Trenton, New Jersey
of "Never the Rainbow" and "Noise from my Head." These are slightly
rough, but energetic, with Heather clearly suffering from
sound problems which slightly affected her vocal performance.
The DVD then switches to an excellent outdoor performance of
"Please" and "The Last Climb" at Canterbury Fayre in August 2003.
The illustrative video footage for the latter is somewhat
embarrassing and the sequence would have been better off
not attempted at all.
"Shindig / Haste to the Wedding," performed by a then only
slightly rattled band later in the set at the Mean Fiddler is
next up, followed by a great version of "The Spirit of Autumn
Past" from the same gig (note not in Trenton as the DVD cover
suggests) with a rather more successful video sequence shot
in Central Park. A further video sequence from Borrowdale
illustrates the lovely "Prints in the Stone," followed by
an excellent "Mother Nature" from Canterbury. I’m not so
sure about the rain-swept Borrowdale visuals, though.
Fans will certainly want this, and the live performances
are, in the main, excellent and well shot. Songs like "Mother
Nature" have certainly developed live since their first
performances and some of the songs not seen on DVD before
are worth having. Some of the nature footage is also good,
and works well with the music. Where the DVD fails, however,
is in its additional footage. Out of context miming, like
much of the Borrowdale footage, rarely works, and here it
often looks cheap and slightly amateurish. I always think
that if in doubt, stick with the in concert footage because
you are on much safer ground. So, to new viewers I would
suggest the excellent Story so Far DVD. To fans,
this is flawed but still well worth having.--Stephen
The Grand Opera House, York
20 September 2003
Concert Review. They played: "Overture – Forge
of Sauron," "Greenwood the Great," "Nowhere to Hide," "Caught in
a Fold," "Goodbye Alone," "Evergreen," "Heroes Never Die,"
"Winter Mountain," "Dark before the Dawn," "Answer the Question,"
"Passengers," "Distant Train," "The Gap is Too Wide,"Bitterness
Burnt," "Spirit of Autumn Past," "Never the Rainbow," "Smoke on
the Water," "Comfortably Numb," "Pass the Clock" and "Mother
This was one of those concerts that you just had to go to.
Mostly Autumn, back in their home town, promising special guests,
special effects and a special set. We were not to be disappointed.
The Grand Opera House in York is unspectacular on the outside, but
inside it is lovely--the sort of well-maintained, ornate provincial
theatre that the British do so well. With a capacity of 1000 (and
an excellent turnout on this rainy Saturday), it is spacious, yet
intimate--perfect for Mostly Autumn.
As soon as the intro to "Overture" from Lord of the Rings
sounded, we knew we were in for a great experience. A large projected
video display flashed familiar images based on Tolkien's book. Then,
suddenly, the band were on stage playing their hearts out.
Throughout the concert, the video projections were well done--with
images from nature and space--at one point footage from Fritz Lang's
Metropolis were used. The projections always complimented
the music and never detracted from it. In addition to the regular
band, a string quartet, playing behind a transparent screen, were
on stage, sometimes playing as a unit, sometimes as individual
Early in the set it became clear that I was witnessing an
extraordinary performance, since the band were at their very
best, well-rehearsed and really fired up for the concert.
The set has now become very balanced, many of the songs from
Passengers, having been road tested, have now been dropped
for older pieces, leaving songs like "Caught in a Fold," with its
aggressive flute, to light up the set. Better still, the band
had never sounded better. The concert was superbly mixed and
the PA did them proud. I could hear every note.
Though there was plenty of passion throughout the performance,
the first unusual offering was "Goodbye Alone" also from Lord
of the Rings--here beautifully performed with some lovely
violin. "Heroes" was played without its gentle intro, presumably
for timing reasons, and "Passengers," with Heather Findlay on top
vocal form, was superbly augmented by some very cosmic visuals.
Iain Jenning's "Distant Train" works surprisingly well live, with
a lovely Celtic flute interlude from Angela Goldthorpe.
Next came the centrepiece of the set, and the piece we had all
been waiting for--a performance of "The Gap is Too Wide" from
The Spirit of Autumn Past album. Aside from the band and the
string quartet, a 10 piece choir was employed alongside the
versatile Troy Donockley from Iona, whose Uilleann pipes are
vital to the piece. This performance was note perfect and full
of emotion. The audience responded with a standing ovation. I
was in tears.
Troy hung around for another surprise--a lovely "Bitterness
Burnt," plus some end of set fun--a version of "Smoke on the
Water" played dead straight with some good guitar from Troy
and a Blackmore-like solo from Liam Davidson. Next up was the
band's legendary version of "Comfortably Numb" with Heather as
Roger Waters and Bryan Josh as Dave Gilmour (no surprise there).
"Pass the Clock" ended the set in epic style. After fierce
backstage negotiations, the band were allowed back for a
wonderful "Mother Nature."
So, two and a half hours of astonishing, emotional music from
a great band at the peak of their powers. I have to say, this
was one of the best concerts I have ever seen – and I have seen
hundreds. Thankfully, the even was filmed for a DVD to be released
in November, but I am proud to say that I was there. I’ll never
forget it.--Stephen Lambe