A sad announcement today is that York progressive rock band Breathing Space are calling it a day. As said on their official website:
After a lot of thought and deliberation, we are sorry to announce that Breathing Space has decided to disband.
We would like to thank everyone that has supported us over the last few years. It has been an exciting and wonderful journey and we have all enjoyed every moment. Whereas I am very sad that this project has come to an end, as one door closes another door opens, so watch this space…
All the best,
For those of you who aren’t regular readers of this blog, Breathing Space are the band Mostly Autumn keyboardist Iain Jennings and vocalist Olivia Sparnenn put together to promote Iain’s 2005 solo album “Breathing Space”. After Iain left Mostly Autumn at the beginning of 2006, the project took on a life of it’s own and became a band in it’s own right. Like many bands at their level, they’ve been though a number of lineup changes over the years. Barry Cassells replaced original drummer, Iain’s brother Andy in 2007. There was the departure of guitarist Mark Rowen in 2009, and most significantly of all the departure of Olivia Sparnenn in 2010 to take up a new role as lead singer for Mostly Autumn. The final incarnation of the band featured Heidi Widdop on vocals, and Adam Dawson on guitar.
I first became of fan of the band after I met Olivia after a Mostly Autumn gig in February 2007, and she personally invited me to their gig at The Roman Baths in York the following weekend. At the time the band were without a permanent drummer, and Olivia’s father Howard was standing in; I remember him remarking to me that he didn’t want to occupy the drumstool on a permanent basis, since he thought having her dad on drums would rather cramp her style. That gig was plagued with severe technical gremlins, but I could see the potential there, and I thought Olivia Sparnenn was a real star in the making, A month later I saw them play a superb set at the Mostly Autumn fan convention in Ringwood, Hampshire, and said to bassist Paul Teasdale that give them a couple of years they’d be giving Mostly Autumn a run for their money. And I think I was right.
Over the course of the following four years the band recorded two excellent studio albums, “Coming Up for Air” and “Below the Radar”, and played a great many memorable gigs. Among those that stick in the mind are the very emotional performance in Mansfield in May 2008, the stunning show at the Cambridge Rock Festival in 2009, and what appeared at the time to be a spectacular rebirth of the band with a brand new lineup at the same festival in 2010. Over the years their sound evolved, from the dominance of big soaring ballads and jazz-rock workouts in the Mark Rowen era, to the tougher hard rock orientated approach they took over the last couple of years. Even after Olivia left the band they managed to reinvent themselves once more with new singer Heidi Widdop, and things looked set for another chapter in the story.
In terms of the number of their gigs I’ve attended, Breathing Space are second only to Mostly Autumn. I’ve likened being a fan of a band at this level to being an away supporter of a lower-division football team. It involves travelling to towns like Crewe, Mansfield or Southend, often staying in dodgy B&Bs when it’s not possible to arrange lifts home. But there’s a great camaraderie amongst fellow fans, many of whom have become friends, as have some of the band. It’s quite different from being a fan of someone like Oasis. Part of being a loyal fan is you stick with them through the bad times as well as the good. Yes, there were times when a cloth-eared house soundman from a toilet of a venue rendered their finely-crafted music all but unlistenable to a sparse crowd. But there were times when they delivered mesmerising performances to appreciative audiences, or went down a storm at festivals. Sadly they were a band who I always felt deserved far more success than they ever achieved; they were worth far more than playing for sixty people in working-mens clubs in the East Midlands.
At the time of writing, nobody from the band has given any specific reason for the split, and since I know some of the band personally I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speculate about it on a public forum. So here’s to the past four years. Let’s remember the good times, and I hope to see all the band involved in exciting new projects over the coming months and years. There may not be any more chapters in the Breathing Space story, but I hope for and expect at a sequel.