Heather Findlay / Halo Blind

Kennedy's Bar, York

8 June 2011

After Heather’s set, my friend turned to me and said, "I don't understand why it took a while for the new songs to grow on you."

Because, you know what? Stripped down to an acoustic arrangement, the four Phoenix Suite songs played tonight (Cellophane, Red Dust, Phoenix, Mona Lisa) are brilliant. If I didn't already know the songs, I would have fallen in love with them instantly tonight.

So, the gig is just Chris Johnson on guitar with Heather adding some deft percussion (juggling multiple tambourines and shaky things), but that's enough to give the songs a surprisingly full sound. Chris is a brilliant and versatile acoustic guitar player. And his voice harmonises beautifully with Heather's.

Ah, Heather. Over a year since I last saw her with Mostly Autumn, and it's been a year too long. She sounds beautiful, and this short acoustic set showcases every aspect of her voice. Apart from the new songs we get Magpie, Yellow Time, Gaze (brings me to tears, it's so beautiful) and, amazingly, Blue Light (works perfectly as an acoustic song; Heather sings the clarinet part!)

I think the set lasted about 40 minutes, and it came as close to perfection as anything could ever come.

I would say more, but I would just be repeating myself. Perfect music by my favourite singer. What more could I ask for?


After a short break Chris came back with his band Halo Blind and played the 40-minute set they will be playing at the Isle of White festival at the weekend. And, assuming they can avoid technical keyboard gremlins, I see no reason why they shouldn’t steal the day. They have a superb set of energetic rock songs, modern sounding and packed with infectious rhythms and melodies. The band plays brilliantly and with a huge amount of energy, and Chris and Anne-Marie make for engaging co-frontpersons.

Seriously, if we are not hearing about this band everywhere after their weekend appearance, there is even more wrong with the modern music scene than I realised.

It was a hassle to arrange the trip to this gig at such short notice (which clearly explains why the audience was so tiny), but I'm so glad I made the effort. If I hadn't, I would have missed the best concert I have ever seen.