Breathing Space / Marc Atkinson

Fibbers, York

5 December 2010

Sunday afternoon gigs are brilliant. Everywhere should do them. In fact, Breathing Space and Marc Atkinson should do a Sunday afternoon residency at Fibbers — I'll come down every week.

So, this is my first chance to see Breathing Space's new line-up. Considering how highly I rated the previous line-ups, they've got a lot to live up to. Plus my head is still full of their previous singer's outstanding performance with Mostly Autumn last night.

So, no pressure on new singer Heidi Widdop then!

In fact, comparisons are pointless because with Heidi and new guitar player Adam Dawson, Breathing Space sound like a new band. Heidi isn't trying to emulate Olivia, she doesn't need to because her own sound is fantastic on both new and old songs.

Adam Dawson is a surprisingly good fit in the band, too. I say surprising because his own CD (which everybody should be listening to) is a trippy, acoustic affair a million miles away from Breathing Space's hard rock sound. I thought he was a very strange choice when I heard about his joining the band... but I needn't have worried. His electric guitar playing is... well... electric. He can definitely rock, and he fills the songs with some superb atmospheric solos (he absolutely nails The Gap is Too Wide).

The set features a lot of new songs and it's these that confirm this new line up is a winner. The first they play (Unnatural Disaster) could have been a "classic" Breathing Space song — it's got the guitar/keyboard interplay that made the first album so sublime and the strong rhythms that made the second album so catchy — and yet it's obviously written for this line-up's strengths. With songs like this, the next Breathing Space album will be as good as any the band have produced.

This Breathing Space is a new band. And though I have the greatest admiration for departed members, I think it's a better band.

* * *

The big bonus in this gig was the support set by Marc Atkinson. He played about 45 minutes and it was nice to hear his own songs instead of a covers set. He included songs from all of his albums, plus a few new ones, and as always he sounds great. And the whole crowd must have agreed — how often do you have the entire audience paying complete attention to the support act, particularly when there's a bar? To the extent that between songs there's a sudden silence — not even any talking — as everybody is watching the stage. Some headline acts don't get that much respect! But Marc deserves it.

This double bill easily qualifies as the best concert I have ever seen. I think I felt more emotional connection with these acts than I did with Mostly Autumn last night. Which is weird, but there it is.