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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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The Next Chapter DVD Cover
Image © Classic Rock Legends 2003

More Mostly Autumn Reviews
Passengers (plus additional links)
Live at The Grand Opera House, York

(19 October 2003) DVD Review.Mostly Autumn return to DVD with The Next Chapter(Classic Rock Legends (UK) CRL 1120, 2003), a compilation of clips from live performances during 2002, some brief interview footage and a few filmed video sequences, leading up to some sequences shot during rehearsals for the wonderful new Passengers(review)album.

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 and depth.

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 (review) 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.

The DVD ends with the very average video for "Something in Between" from Passengers, and a mimed sequence for "Goodbye Alone" with the band around a camp fire. This may have been very atmospheric when the band were there, but sadly it fails to come across on film. A bonus track shows Bryan Josh guiding us round their countryside rehearsal studio, and features a video performance of "Pure White Light," also from Passengers.

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.--StephenLambe

Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order this DVD from amazon.comhere. While the DVD is a must for established fans, it is also worth a journey for newcomers.

The Grand Opera House, York20 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 Nature."

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--withimages 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 musicians.

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

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