Mostly Autumn

Assembly Rooms, Leamington

2 April 2010

I have seen Mostly Autumn 46 times before tonight. And although some of them blur into the past, I can picture at least something distinct from every one — every Mostly Autumn concert is unique. Maybe I wasn't here right at the start, but I've seen a lot of milestones over the years: album launches, big shows, parties, people joining the band, people leaving the band... and tonight Heather is leaving the band.

I know Bryan is the heart and the mastermind of Mostly Autumn, but Heather is a huge part of the band's presence and it's difficult to imagine them without her.

Their shows are always a hugely emotional experience, but I've never gone in to a Mostly Autumn show with such mixed emotions before.

I've never written this much of a review before even getting into the venue before, either...

It's going to be really hard to review this as "just" another gig...


... And yet, that's exactly what it is. The band runs through a regular set (very familiar to anyone who saw last year's tour) with nothing to mark it as anything out of the ordinary.

Which means (needless to say) that the musicianship is as perfect as always, the arrangements as flawlessly precise, and the sense of fun and enjoyment on the stage is obvious to those of us off it.

And only at the end does the image start to crack and the sense of occasion show through. When Bryan introduces the band during Mother Nature, the cheers for Heather lift the roof off. When the last encore finishes (Evergreen—like we didn't see that coming when it was mysteriously omitted earlier in the set), I'm not sure if there are more tears on stage or off.

It's the end of an era. I know that's a bit of a feeble cliché but it's true. Mostly Autumn won't—can't—be the same again.

But they've weathered change before and bounced back stronger. I am confident that they will continue to be the best band in the world today.

But Heather Findlay will always be the best singer of all time, ever.

I have watched this band grow over ten years—ten years next month—and no-one has grown as much as Heather. Looking back over her recordings and live performances, from hesitant, almost fragile, beginnings on early songs, through a rock-chick growl on Never the Rainbow, through an ever-widening range and power demonstrated on Passengers, full-on heavy metal screaming on Storms over Still Water, and culminating with a breathtaking maturity of style and emotion on Above the Blue... there should be no doubt by now that Heather can sing anything. And with the growth of her voice has come a growth in her stage presence, from her early, shy song introductions to a woman who now commands the stage and the audience like... like...

A star.

I didn't want to make this review all about Heather. But.


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