Heather Findlay

The Garage, London

10 January 2020

I thought last night's gig was energetic, but this one was through the roof. With a bigger stage to play on, there's a lot more movement and it translates into a band that looks looser and more relaxed and yet still plays as tightly as you could wish for. Yesterday Heather told us she was losing her voice to a cold, so I was expecting tonight to sound sub-par, but if anything she was even better, even more powerful. Was she occasionally singing a few steps lower than usual? I don't know, maybe, but I absolutely love the lower ranges of her voice so if she was it didn't matter, it just made her even better.

Basically the same set as last night, which means mostly Wild White Horses material. I think they play every song from the album. And every song takes on a new dimension in the live arrangements. They open with Southern Skies: on the album it's a fairly laid back AOR sort of track, live it's a powerful hard rock number. And that sets the tone for the whole set: everything is loud, powerful, and just, well, rocking.

There's only so much you can fit into a set, and if you're going to play the whole of your new album then something's got to give. Surprisingly, it's the big, crowd-pleasing, "signature" songs you might expect that are absent. And it doesn't even matter—they may be among my favourite songs of all time, but they're not needed tonight and I don't miss them. The songs we do get are more than enough, and the new material is easily strong enough to stand on its own feet without being propped up by the usual suspects.

But, ok, it's still Heather, and she's going to play something from her back catalogue, so there are three Mostly Autumn songs. Caught in a Fold, which sounds great even without a flute player. Black Rain, which is actually one of my least favourite Mostly Autumn songs, but it works perfectly in the context of the evening and sounds fantastic. And one of the highlights of the night is Unoriginal Sin, in possibly the best arrangement I've ever heard, underpinned by a relentless bass groove that has everyone bouncing up and down. Only one Mantra Vega song, but it's absolutely the the best one, the one I would have wished for: Lake Sunday, and in keeping with the energy level of the set it's so full and powerful compared with the acoustic version she would normally play, and yet still has that glorious, beautiful vocal melody that's just one of the best things she's ever written. And then she throws in a cover of Gold Dust Woman because, well why not?

Just when you think things can't get any better, the set ends with a galloping version of Wild White Horses with three guitars that's just the best thing ever.

Until the encore, which is better than the best thing ever: Firefly, accompanied by just a piano, and it is among her most beautiful songs, the best thing on the album, and it's the stand-out performance of the whole night, reminding us, after all this rock music, how many different dimensions her voice has. Just utterly beautiful. I love this so much.

Then the whole band returns for Already Free, and it's a surprisingly mellow way to end the evening, but after all this intensity in the main set I think that's probably what we need. I came out singing it all the way home.

Best concert I have ever seen.