Autumn - LIVE: 013 Stage01, Tilburg 2012

Cold Comfort Tour
February 10 (21:00-23:00)
Capacity 150

One of the more interesting things about the media – compilations, press releases, magazines, even humble websites like this one – is that it is very good at creating illusions of bands, whether accidental or on purpose. If you live in one country, and a certain band never visits your country, then the only view you have of that band is that which is created by media and online buzz. Take Autumn for example – whilst certainly not a name as recognizable as Within Temptation or Epica, or these days not even Delain, it is an identity that fans within certain communities are familiar with. As the band are well recognized and well respected, not to mention make damn fine music, there is an assumption that in their home country they would headline fair sized venues and would have a sizeable following across the country.

This is an obvious perceptive fallacy - the idea that the grass is greener on the other side when it comes to music in places like in the Netherlands is fundamentally flawed. Sure one or two acts elevate to a point where they can headline large clubs and even arenas, but for a band like Autumn, the story told by many bands in the UK (for example) rings true for them as well. Autumn are playing the 013 club in Tilburg – but not the famous large hall, or even the off-side second room – they are in fact playing a small function room, much like any of the function rooms you find in the back of pubs in any city. There's a good, loyal crowd – there's a few people from outside the country in attendance, and 'star-spotters' might even notice part of Stream of Passion in the crowd. It isn't sold out, though it is crowded. But otherwise, there were some expectations that perhaps Autumn played larger venues than this.

Not that this really matters. With no support band, Autumn literally emerge from all corners to take the stage at around nine o'clock. The band start off calmly, sombrely, with Altitude take Synchro-Minds – a slow, building song that really shows off the warm, soulful tone of Marjan Welman's voice and the multi-layered musicianship provided underneath. It is perhaps not the most obvious choice of opener, but does set the tone – it is careful, considered, intelligent, very representative of the dynamics the band harness and the perfect way to bring the crowd in. If that doesn't work, then the much more rocking Paradise Nox follows next, with the band fully getting into gear (especially the somewhat showy Mats van der Valk, who is clearly enjoying himself far too much on stage).

Shortly after the band delve into their new opus Cold Comfort, a much darker collection of songs than its predecessor. Given the album was recorded with very different equipment than what was used on stage, it is surprising how well the band still manage to capture the feeling of the songs. There are still certain subtleties that simply can't be translated, but still the layers shine perfectly – Jeroen Vrielink's bass sounds utterly gorgeous on the album's title track, the doomy riffs of The Scarecrow still sound excellent and Alloy still oozes a despairing melancholy even if the band are looking happy on stage. Again, Welman's singing is full of so much sorrow and bitter emotion even when she is smiling, letting the emotions of a song like Alloy really glow when played live.

The latter part of the set is perhaps where the band's biggest guns lay, with the main set closing with the truly anthemic Altitude. An encore follows, with two tracks from pre-Welman album My New Time, including the insanely catchy Satellites. This leaves just closer The Venamoured, a dark and sometimes bleak piece that is contrasted by the atmosphere on stage. The show closes with the band's singer jumping in to the crowd to headbang with the audience, shortly joined by the rest of the band, mingling with their fans.

That's what is perhaps most striking about Autumn. The band seem surprisingly humble, genuine rock and music fans with immense talent as players and writers. There are no theatrics nor gimmicks with this band. They are a band composed of people who seem to have no real ambition to strive for commercial success or the life of a full-time touring musician. The show itself is played to a professional level, of course, but there is a warm and friendly character in their performance that feels exceptionally genuine. They have a noticeable, magnetic chemistry on stage and clearly enjoy playing together. The band aren't out every night for months on end, so it makes sense that their performance would be this sincere and heartfelt. The lack of desire to be anything else is why the band can get away with writing and performing the non-obvious variant of rock music that they play. Overall, it felt like a rare event, and something to be cherished – by both the band and the audience.

That perhaps means they won't be playing the UK, or many places outside of their corner of Europe, any time soon, if at all. That's a shame, and hopefully something that an adventurous promoter may one day choose to change. In the meantime, plane tickets are cheap, hostel rooms are cheaper, exchange rates are favourable and a headline show from Autumn is certainly worth all the trouble to try and attend.

“ a warm and friendly character in their performance ”

Setlist: Synchro-Minds / Paradise Nox / Blue Wine / The Scarecrow / Cold Comfort / The Heart Demands / Retrospect / Alloy / End of Sorrow / Black Stars In A Blue Sky / Naeon / Altitude // Forget To Remember (Sunday Mornings) / Satellites / The Venamoured

Written by James Donovan
More: 2012, Gigs, Gothic,

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