Mostly Autumn @ The Robin, Bilston – Saturday 6th December 2014


Review by David Waterfield, photos by Rob Stanley

Mostly Autumn at the Robin 2 at Christmas is my spiritual home of gigs. There’s a warm, intimate atmosphere to their festive shows at this venue and it’s made for many memorable evenings over the years. Last Saturday was another one to add to that list.

For the first of two sets Mostly Autumn delved into their rich back catalogue for classic material including ‘Evergreen’ and ‘The Last Climb’, the latter featuring a gorgeous flute solo from Anne-Marie Helder. ‘Changing Fast’ has risen from its humble bonus track beginnings on A Weather For Poets to become a dynamic live number but it’s two Olivia Sparnenn songs, dating back to her days with Breathing Space that take the honours here; a tender and beautiful ‘Rain Song’ and her show stopping co-write with Iain Jennings, ‘Questioning Eyes’.

Mostly Autumn
Mostly Autumn

Following a short interval Mostly Autumn take the bold step of presenting their latest album in its entirety. Dressed In Voices is a dark, haunting, unsettling yet strangely life-affirming album, one of the finest things the band has done and it’s undoubtedly best appreciated as a complete work. The band lets the music and the story speak for itself, introducing Dressed In Voices at the close of their first set and not speaking again until the last note of the album has been played. Some of the songs are embellished slightly; Alex Cromarty’s expressive drum fills bring an added power to the rootsy, acoustic stomp of ‘Skin On Skin’ while ‘Box Of Tears’ is more of a band number – and it’s possible to pick out individual highlights, but Dressed In Voices is far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a magnificent album and I was delighted Mostly Autumn chose to play it in full. Genuinely spine-tingling stuff!

Mostly Autumn
Mostly Autumn

A four song encore begins with Bryan’s heartfelt ‘Heroes Never Die’ before spinning off in a completely unexpected direction with a rocked up version of ‘Let It Go’ from the animated film ‘Frozen’! Who saw that one coming! “She (Olivia) wants to be a Disney princess” said Bryan, by way of explanation.

The evening ended on a suitably festive note with Bryan Josh leading a crowd sing-along during ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ and a gloriously silly version of ‘I Believe In Father Christmas’ featuring the band bedecked in tinsel and festive gear and Bryan Josh wearing a splendid turkey hat, which I’m pleased to say I have a picture of…!

It was another evening to treasure with one of my favourite bands and starting just after nine and finishing fractionally before midnight no can say they didn’t get their money’s worth. Simply wonderful. I’m all set up for Christmas now!

Set List – Part One
1. Deep In Borrowdale
2. Drops Of The Sun
3. Changing Fast
4. Never The Rainbow
5. Rain Song
6. Evergreen
7. The Last Climb
8. Nowhere To Hide
9. Questioning Eyes

Set List – Part Two
10. Saturday Night
11. Not Yours To Take
12. Running
13. (See You)
14. Home
15. First Day At School
16. Down By The River
17. Skin On Skin
18. The House On The Hill
19. The Last Day
20. Dressed In Voices
21. The Library
22. (Footsteps)
23. Box Of Tears

24. Heroes Never Die
25. Let It Go
26. A Spaceman Came Travelling
27. I Believe In Father Christmas

See more of Rob’s photos here