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MOSTLY AUTUMN The Assembly, Leamington Spa
2 April 2010

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Photos by Andrew Lock

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

Such a treat to have this show in my hometown at our fabulous venue The Assembly, a perfect place for the band with its large high stage, impressive lighting and excellent sound system.

This was a very special gig (although for me all of their gigs are a bit special!) as this was the last performance with Mostly Autumn for lead vocalist Heather Findlay, without doubt one of, if not the finest, female rock singers in the country with a voice and stage presence rarely matched.

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

Heather is starting a solo career and all Autumn fans wish her all the very best for the future.

So the show had a touch of sadness but was an absolute triumph with the band putting on the best performance I have seen in front of a good sized audience of around 800.

On entering the venue there was already a bit of magic in the air, the stage was beautifully and subtly lit, relaxing tranquil classical music in the background while the faithful front row fans chatted away with each other or made new friends.

Not long after 8.00pm house lights dimmed, the cheers started and one of the best intros in rock got the first set underway - the atmospheric, haunting lead into Fading Colours the powerful opening track from the Heart Full of Sky album.

Last on stage dressed in a stylish red dress and black hat with a short veil and to a great reception, the lady of the moment Heather.

From the first track you could see the band really meant business, determined to make it a night to remember and after the always stunning opening number the rock tempo was kept going with Caught in a Fold from Passengers.

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

Next up 2 crackers from the last studio album Glass Shadows the foot tapping Flowers for Guns with excellent backing harmony singing by Olivia Sparnenn and Anne-Marie Helder and for me the album's stand out track Unoriginal Sin with its slow burning heavy main riff and fretboard fireworks by Bryan Josh.

A very welcome return with Liam Davison's stunning lead intro to The Spirit of Autumn Past (part 2) was the next treat, always a fan favourite with plenty of audience participation, before a sit by the camp fire for Simple Ways.

The band visited all of their albums in the show apart from The Lord of the Rings release and the last three numbers of the first set included two from a strong contender for the bands best album, The Last Bright Light, with the powerful opening track and one of the highlights of the set Heather's show piece Shrinking Violet.

Always an emotional track, even more so tonight as of a lot of us guessed this would be the last time it would be performed by Mostly Autumn and tonight she really took it to another level. Sandwiched in-between the Bright Light numbers they performed the quite simply beautiful Passengers from the album of the same name.

The second set started with a bit of fun and banter from Heather including a few Bruce Forsyth references before the mood became more serious for Carpe Diem the moving track written about the tragic Boxing Day tsunamis of 2004 - you could hear a pin drop during the quietest moments (what a great crowd).

Outstanding drumming next from Gavin Griffiths for the stirring Winter Mountain followed by 2 scorching rockers that always work so well put together in a Mostly Autumn set and hard to see the join, The Dark before the Dawn and Answer the Question (must admit to head banging in the photo pit at times to these two!).

Back to where it all started with Nowhere to Hide (close my eyes) from debut album For All We Shared followed by the gentle Half the Mountain which ended with one of Bryan's finest solos (one of many) then to finish two of the all time Mostly Autumn epics Mother Nature and Heroes Never Die, the latter of course dedicated to Robert Josh.

Mostly Autumn, photo by Andrew Lock

Encore time started with just Heather accompanied by keyboards for the delicate Above the Blue, another real show case for her wonderful voice along with Iain and Anne-Marie's keyboard magic, I could not put it better than the single call at the end of the track from the crowd "that was beautiful".

After the classics already played only one track they could finish with and for me it's their Stairway to Heaven and also one of the best rock songs ever recorded - Evergreen - starting gently with exquisite vocals before the track turns into a Bryan Josh showpiece with incredible solo work and of course the centre stage set piece of bass player Andy Smith and Heather back to back rocking the house.

Alongside the usual end of set bows we had an emotional speech by Heather and the band presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers followed by her saying goodbye to all the band members individually, plenty of tears (nearly started myself) but what great memories we have.

What a night - two stunning sets, all the classics, band all playing a storm (never seen Bryan's hands move so fast), a big enthusiastic crowd and a great venue and, to finish, Heather of course came out along with Bryan to mingle with the fans (family really).

All the best in the future to both Mostly Autumn (I'm sure Olivia will do a great job fronting the band) and Heather in her solo work (will be there for both).

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

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