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Borderline, London, 26 November 2011
previously I'd stood in this same venue as Heather Findlay supported
Touchstone on their mini UK tour.
night, Heather, aided by Chris Johnson, had served up an acoustic set
that, although well received by her faithful fans, had left me rather
disappointed and wanting more.
she was here with a full band to play, amongst other things, all the
songs of her new EP The Phoenix Suite and I was looking forward to
hopefully being able to write a more positive review.
Heather on her tour were newly formed Welsh rockers Shadow of the Sun.
It was only seven months ago that vocalist Alexander Powell and
guitarist Dylan Thompson started writing songs together and six months
since drummer Rhys Jones and bassist Lee Woodmass joined the mix, yet
their previous experiences in other bands meant that this was a tight
and co-ordinated performance, from the heavy opening number Hourglass
via the mellow and melodic Halo to the foot stomping crescendo of I'm
showed influences of Nirvana and Pearl Jam here and Porcupine Tree and
Pink Floyd there and was very well received by all in the audience. I'm
sure we'll be hearing more from them in the future.
Set List: Hourglass, Crimson Flags, Never Enough, The Wheelhorse, Halo,
Rising, MHIWAO, I'm Going Home
To a warm
and heartfelt round of applause Heather Findlay took to the stage
flanked by the musicians she had relied upon for her first solo
recording since leaving Mostly Autumn; Dave Kilminster on guitar, Chris
Johnson on guitar and keyboards, Steve Vantsis on bass and Alex Cromarty
words of welcome and thanks and the set kicked off with a slightly dark,
bluesy intro to 'Phoenix' from 'The Phoenix Suite' followed by the
somewhat spikey pop sound of 'Cellophane' from the same album. Both
songs were transformed from when I had first heard them live.
the pared down bare bones, we were treated to all the glorious,
intricate layers created by the talented musicians surrounding her, with
Heather's magical voice playing around and above the core melodies.
vocals were at times restrained even on the EP, here, live at The
Borderline, the full power, emotional depth and range of her voice was
these two opening songs were the Odin Dragonfly blues rock song 'Caught
in a Fold' (where sadly a few technical difficulties beset Dave
Kilmister's guitar) and the third song of the night from 'The Phoenix
Suite', 'Seven', normally a ballad, but which sounded far heavier, far
rockier tonight than I remembered from the EP.
With only five songs on The Phoenix Suite, old ground was bound to be
revisited, and why not? Keeping her fans happy with a selection of songs
from her Mostly Autumn days, along with a few Odin Dragonfly numbers, a
particular highlight was a gentle reworking of a very early song, 'This
included in the set were crowd favourites such as 'Blue Light' (a nice
touch being Heather using wordless vocals to replace the clarinet in the
original), 'Unoriginal Sin' with it's multi-layered backing vocals,
'Black Rain' and the ubiquitous 'Magpie'.
complete the main set the final Suite song, 'Mona Lisa', was introduced
with a lengthy explanation of how, when everything seems personally rosy
whilst awaiting the birth of your second child, it's necessary to look
outside of your comfort zone to write such an angst-ridden rock song.
played live has it all, from soaring vocals to wailing guitars, all the
while underpinned by a rock steady bass line and thumping drums that
drive the song along.
ever Heather decides to re-record this track, she would do well to allow
Dave Kilminster the free rein of his guitar's fret board that he was
allowed in this live performance. This was followed by the rockiest
version of 'Yellow Time' I've heard, which had the whole audience
clapping in time.
interlude and Heather and Chris (on keyboards) re-appeared for the first
encore of the evening, 'Broken', from 'Heart Full of Sky'. This too, had
been reworked, as toward the end the other members of the band joined
the duo on stage and brought the song to a crescendo lacking in the
something really different... electric guitars and bass were replaced by
acoustic instruments and the mics were turned off for a truly unplugged
version of 'Paper Angels' from the 'Glass Shadows' album. To finish off
the evening, Heather introduced one of her signature songs, 'Shrinking
To play a headline gig with only five new songs could be considered a
risk, but the reworking of many of the older songs made for a thoroughly
the songs were generally rockier than the original recordings ('Magpie'
being a particular case in point) and, for this reviewer in particular,
they were far better for it.
predominantly Mostly Autumn set that didn't sound like Mostly Autumn was
nonetheless well received by Heather's loyal fans, which should bode
well for her future solo career, and will also maybe attract people such
as myself who prefer their music slightly rockier than MA ever offered.
Overall, tonight was a masterful performance by musicians at the top of