Photo © Howard Rankin
When Heather Findlay announced that she was leaving Mostly Autumn after thirteen years to embark on a solo career, the band announced there would be one final chance to give her a send-off. The show at Leamington Spa was originally intended to be the launch gig for the new album, but with the need to regroup delaying the album it was the ideal location for a farewell gig. It’s a superb venue, a central location accessible from all over the country, with a big stage, decent capacity, and far, far nicer than the grungy old Astoria in London.
While one or two people feared the gig might turn into a wake, it wasn’t like that at all. What we got was a powerful, impassioned performance easily up to the standard of any of the electrifying shows of 2009. If it was a punctuation mark in Mostly Autumn’s history, this was nothing short of an exclamation mark. Heather sang her heart out for something two and a half hours, pouring her heart and soul into the performance. Everyone else was on top of their game, of course, but tonight was really Heather’s night.
There were no real surprises in the setlist, which was pretty much the same as the greatest hits set they’d been playing towards the end of last year, combining old favourites such as “Passengers”, “Shrinking Violet” and “Mother Nature” with some of Heather’s most recent songs like “Above the Blue” and “Unoriginal Sin”. A very bittersweet experience, since we all knew we were probably hearing her sing many of those songs for the last time.
After the final encore of Heather’s signature tune “Evergreen” and the final bow, Heather gave heartfelt hugs to the other seven members of the band, several of whom were visibly in tears by that point. As were a good proportion of the audience.
The end of an era, indeed. The next chapter begins in just a week’s time with former backing singer Olivia Sparnenn taking over at the front of the stage.