Anyone who’s not being going to Mostly Autumn gigs since Heather Findlay left the band in April really doesn’t know what they’re missing. Admittedly a lot of people had reason to be sceptical; few bands manage to survive the loss of a singer, and those that manage the transition the best are those that use it as an opportunity to re-invent themselves.
At Olivia Sparnenn’s first gig as lead singer, in Gloucester, just over a week since Heather’s tearful farewell gig, we saw the new-look Mostly Autumn hit the ground running. Manchester a couple of weeks later saw a great (if very loud) gig. And Saturday’s performance at Bury Met was better still. Livvy has grown in confidence as the tour has progressed.
Although nothing from the forthcoming album “Go Well-Diamond Heart” has been premièred live yet, we’ve still seen a major shakeup of the setlist. Gone are most of Heather’s deeply personal songs such as “Shrinking Violet” and “Unoriginal Sin”. We’ve seen the welcome return of some oldies such as “Out of the Green Sky”, which I’d always thought would suit Livvy’s voice, and a great new arrangement of “Dreaming”. They’ve also brought in a couple of Livvy’s own songs originally recorded with Breathing Space, including a version of “Questioning Eyes”, which fits the MA set far better that I expected, as well as “Slow Down” from Bryan’s solo album. It’s also great to see the return of Liam Davidson’s effects-drenched solo spot, particularly good at Bury; it makes you realise how great a guitarist he can be.
The end result is a rawer, rockier sound that sounds like the beginning of a completely new band. It’s now making me really look forward to the album, to see what the new-look band is capable of doing in the studio.