Karnataka and Mostly Autumn
Heather Findlay and Rachel Jones
Image © 2001 R. W. Elliot
visit Mostly Autumn's | Karnataka's websites
A warm CRS audience welcomed Karnataka and Mostly Autumn for their double headline gig at HLC Rotherham on 12 May 2001. The acclaimed bands received Best New Band and their singers Best Female Vocalist awards in 2000 and 1999 respectively, likely contributing to the overwhelming response with advance ticket sales exceeding 200 and the show selling out by all CRS measures.
Three hours of live music was extremely well received as both bands drew thunderous applause from the audience following each of their songs and at the conclusions of their sets. A powerful sound system faithfully reproduced every note and four brilliant lighting rigs added significantly to the electric mood of the evening.
Karnataka last played at the HLC in July 2000 (review) and they were first up at this performance. Over the last year they have played extensively around the UK, were featured on Radio 2 by Bob Harris and they completed a European tour earlier this year supporting Porcupine Tree. The band have developed significantly, becoming more cohesive on stage, confident in the quality of their music and innovative in their newest material.
Paul Davies' has clearly found his own sound, expanding his signature rapidfire electric guitar solos with original melodies and rhythm parts. Jonathon Edwards' keyboard passages and symphonic arrangements are clearly featured, enhanced with the recent addition of a Korg Trinity. Acoustic guitar passages performed by Ian Jones are more pronounced while his Yes-style bass playing and Gavin Griffith's drumming are extremely tight. Steve Simmons returned with impressive sax arrangements on two of the band's numbers.
Karnataka's thirteen track set opened with "Where The Story Ends," an all-new progressive track that balances Rachel Jones' stunning vocals with highly accomplished keyboard- and guitar-based lead instrumentals. An excellent concert in the run up to several major London gigs and their new album, the new ballad-come-rockers "Strange Behaviour" and "The Right Time" and an epic progressive track "7/8"--the working title commemorating its time signature--were also featured. Karnataka classics were tightly performed with Rachel's soaring vocals and dynamic stage act underpinned by often reworked instrumental arrangements with solos clearly showing the range and extent of the individual band members' musical virtuosity.
Rachel was joined on stage by Heather Findlay for "Heaven Can Wait." Heather picked bits from several of the recording's original harmony lines and created her own backing vocal arrangement. Rehearsed only once during the soundcheck, the two vocalists blended extremely well on stage, obviously enjoying their first live performance together. Other standouts were "Dreamer," "Writing On The Wall" and the closing number "Tell Me Why." After a long round of applause the band returned to play a renewed arrangement of "Shine" as their encore. (album review)
After a short interval, the seven from Mostly Autumn came to the stage. Like Karnataka before them, they drew material from their entire repertoire in this run up to another live performance 30 June at The Mean Fiddler which will be filmed for production of a future DVD. The dramatic stage performance and robust instrumental and vocal arrangements are stronger and more elaborate than their recordings.
Mostly Autumn is fronted by multi-instrumentalist, lead vocalist Heather Findlay and singer, lead guitar player Bryan Josh. Heather's live performance was both visually and acoustically more significant; the audience warmly appreciated her dynamic stage act, where in addition to singing she played high and low whistle, bodrhan, acoustic guitar and tambourine during the set. Mostly Autumn's sound is further personified by Angela Goldthorpe's wonderful flute and recorder parts and backing vocals, Iain Jennings' symphonic keyboards and backing vocals, Liam Davison's rhythm guitar passages, Jonathon Blackmore's crisply-played drum parts and Andy Smith's dramatic bass stage performance. The band were certainly in fine form playing their unique progressive Celtic blend of tracks spanning their three albums. Interested readers should visit our reviews of For All We Shared and The Last Bright Light as well as our of their latest album The Last Bright Light.
Many of Mostly Autumn's songs begin with contemporary treatments of Celtic material but develop into full progressive rock splendour with vast instrumental arrangements as they come to a climax. Standouts were "Evergreen," "Dark Before the Dawn"--with Angela's resounding flute and Heather's dynamic whistle parts--from their latest album, and the epic "Sprit of Autumn Past." Uniquely Mostly Autumn progressive arrangements of Celtic jig-like instrumentals, also with wonderful flute and whistle parts, included "Shenanigans" and "Shindig" which was blended with a second reel added as a bonus. The band's unique blend of guitar and keyboard arrangements add tremendous texture to the tracks.
The electric atmosphere of the evening led Mostly Autumn to play one of their favourite Pink Floyd tunes, "Comfortably Numb." Heather's superb performance of the lead vocal part was certainly well received by all. Rachel Jones was invited to the stage to accompany Heather on "Shrinking Violet," an emotive ballad from the band's latest album. Rachel's powerful backing vocal arrangement added a lovely texture to the tune. With wide smiles and looking frequently into each others' eyes, the two vocalists had a great time and worked extremely well together on stage, especially in the vocalise during the song's final passage. After another round of thunderous applause, Mostly Autumn returned to the stage to play a wonderful live rendition of their classic "Heros Never Die."
Both bands returned, filling the stage for a final bow and photos together as the applause concluded. Fans that remained after the performance enjoyed opportunities to meet the artists, purchase their CDs and have them autographed. As one of most successful CRS gigs to date, this was extremely memorable evening for Karnataka, Mostly Autumn and the audience alike!
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