Tag Archives: Stolen Earth

Martin Ledger joins Stolen Earth

Posted this morning on Stolen Earth’s Facebook page:

It is with much pleasure and great excitement, we welcome Martin Ledger into the fold, he will be joining the Stolen Earth family as lead guitarist. Those of you familiar with any of Heidi’s previous projects will recognise Martin as one half of The Secrets and will know what a fantastic asset to the band he will be!

We are getting stuck into writing the second album, booking summer gigs, recording a lovely new track with some visual delights to go alongside it and generally looking forward to the future!

Thank you to everyone who has joined us on the journey so far, lets continue together and see where we go!!

Stolen Earth x

Certainly good news for Stolen Earth fans, and I look forward to seeing how the new lineup sounds live.

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Adam Dawson leaves Stolen Earth

Stolen Earth at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

It’s always this time of year we get announcements like this…

Hi,

I’m writing this update to tell you that I’ve made the difficult decision to take a step back from Stolen Earth. I feel that with work and family commitments, I can no longer give the band the attention it deserves. However, I’ve had some truly wonderful times and memories over the past 3 years which I will take with me and never forget.

Joining Breathing Space back in 2010 was an incredible experience which led to one of my proudest musical moments; the release of ‘A Far Cry From Home’ last year with Stolen Earth. But meeting so many great people on the way has been equally amazing. To get to know such generous and loyal supporters of original music has been a humbling experience and one which gives me a lot of optimism for the future. This certainly won’t be the end; not for Stolen Earth or for me – I’m hoping to use the ‘down-time’ to work on the many ideas that are floating around my head for new songs and so I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear from me!

I’d like to wish Barry, Chris, Heidi and John all the very best for the future, and I’m sure I’ll see many of you at some gig or other very soon!

Best wishes,

Adam Dawson

Adam’s distinctively atmospheric guitar playing was an important ingredient of Stolen Earth’s sound, and he made a big contribution to the songwriting on the band’s superb début album “A Far Cry From Home”. He’ll be a hard act to follow.

The band added their statement:

He has been a real asset to the band and will be greatly missed, we wish him every success for the future. Of course we will continue and have started work on our second album. We look forward to seeing you all later in the year.

Heidi, Barry, Chris and John x

It’s never easy for bands at this level juggling their musical actities around work and family responsibilities, and in some ways it’s remarkable that some bands can keep stable lineups together as long as they do.

As a fan I naturally hope Stolen Earth bounce back stronger than ever with a new lineup, and wish Adam all the best in whatever musical projects he does next.

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2012 Albums of the Year – Part Three

Counting down from Five to Two, we get to the year’s Superb releases. In many previous years any of these might have been a strong candidate for my album of the year. Indeed, the previous album by one of these bands was my album of that year, even though the album listed below is the stronger album. That’s how good a year it’s been. Again, the order is simply alphabetical; these albums are so good it’s next to impossible to rank them into any kind of order.

Big Big TrainEnglish Electric Part One

With music reminiscent of “Wind and Wuthering” era Genesis with hints of Barclay James Harvest and Gentle Giant and lyrics about the industrial revolution, this is a quintessentially English record steeped in the nation’s history and landscapes. With varied instrumentation including strings and brass, it transcends obvious influences and evokes the spirit of 70s pastoral progressive rock far more strongly than any 80s style neo-prog band can hope to.

Mostly AutumnThe Ghost Moon Orchestra

Olivia Sparnenn finds her voice on her second studio album since taking over as the band’s lead vocalist, and makes her mark with some soaring leads that make it clear just why she was shortlisted for the gig with Nightwish. With their signature guitar-driven celtic-tinged classic rock on one side, and a more modern symphonic metal feel on the other, the result is a strong record with one foot in the past and one in the future. It delivers a powerful riposte to those who wrote the band off a couple of years ago.

RiverseaOut Of The Ancient World

Years in the making, the collaboration between singer-songwriter Marc Atkinson and keyboard player Brendan Eyre along with an all-star cast of guest musicians resulted in one of the progressive rock surprises of the year. Marc Atkinson’s emotive vocals recall Marillion’s Steve Hogarth and the keyboard-led arrangements range from simple piano accompaniments to moments of heavy symphonic rock. An album that proved to be well worth the wait.

Stolen EarthA Far Cry From Home

The band that grew out of the short-lived final incarnation of Breathing Space get off to a very strong start with their début album. The combination of Heidi Widdop’s soulful vocals and Adam Dawson’s effects-laden guitar gives a rich sound based around big wall-of-sound rock ballads. There’s a hint of early Mostly Autumn in the Floydian atmospherics, especially with Heidi’s low whistle, but this is a band with their own sound and their own identity. It will be very interesting to see how they progress from here.

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Paul Teasdale leaves Stolen Earth

Stolen Earth at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Just after their triumphal performance at the Cambridge Rock Festival comes this news, from the Stolen Earth website:

It is with sadness that we are saying goodbye to our bass player, Paul Teasdale, whose last gig with the band was at the Cambridge Rock Festival (talk about going out on a high!). We are sad to see Paul go, and we know he will be missed, but we wish him all the best for the future.

Words from Paul…

Following the release of our album and this summer’s promotional tour, I have decided the time is right for me to take a step away from Stolen Earth to concentrate on new projects.

I’d like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who bought the album and has seen us play over the last year. Thank you all for your support and your fantastic encouragement. Also thanks to everybody who has played our songs on the radio – for a songwriter there really is no greater feeling!

But most of all, thanks to the members of Stolen Earth for the journey so far. I know the band will go on to bigger and better things and I wish them well. I look forward to watching the band as a fan!

Paul

Paul was of course not just a founder member of Stolen Earth, but a founder member of Breathing Space too, Stolen Earth’s direct ancestor. He’ll certainly be missed; he’s a great guy who made an important contribution to Stolen Earth’s songwriting as well as being a great bassist. It will be interesting to hear what Paul comes up with next.

As for Stolen Earth, let’s hope finding a new bassist proves be a minor speedbump on the road to those bigger and better things.

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The Cambridge Rock Festival

My review of the weekend is now up on Trebuchet Magazine, here are a few of my photos from the weekend.

Virgil and the Accellerators at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Virgil and the Accellerators were an early highlight, playing some guitar-shredding electric blues.

The Heather Findlay Band at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Heather Findlay played her first full band gig on a big stage since November last year, and went down a storm.

Sankara at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Sankara, fronted by Gareth Jones, formerly of The Reasoning played the CRS stage, and made a strong impression with their mix of hard rock, metal and AOR.

WInter in Eden at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Winter in Eden, fronted by Vicky Johnson, played an absolute blinder as special guests on the CRS stage.

SIlverjet at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Silverjet. Because first thing in the morning, some back to basics rock and roll is what a festival needs.

Stolen Earth at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Stolen Earth were another band who rose to the big occasion to play one of the best sets they’ve ever done.

Panic Room at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Panic Room did what Panic Room do, which was to blow everybody away. They really should have been far higher up the bill.

Chantel McGregor at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Chantel McGregor delivered another incendiary set, great songwriting and some spectacular guitar pyrotechnics.

Flanborough  Head at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Flanborough Head played some delightful old-school prog. There is nothing quite like a flute solo backed by Mellotron.

Mr So and So at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

Mr So and So impressed me a lot, they came over a lot better than last year.

Touchstone at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival

The mighty Touchstone stormed the stage to deliver an impressive high-energy set.

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn

Mostly Autumn, special guests on the Sunday night and playing their first gig since the end of last year did not disappoint.

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Stolen Earth – A Far Cry From Home

Stolen Earth formed early in 2011 from the ashes of the much-loved York progressive rock band Breathing Space, who had split at the beginning of the year. They include no fewer than four members of Breathing Space’s short-lived final incarnation, including recently joined vocalist Heidi Widdop and guitarist Adam Dawson. Only the rock-solid rhythm section of Paul Teasdale and Barry Cassells remain from the linuep of Breathing Space’s final albums.

They quickly established a reputation as a powerful live act, with a strong set of songs including a couple performed during the last days of Breathing Space, which fuelled high expectations for their first album. That album, “A Far Cry From Home” is now out.

The band have successfully captured the big wide-screen sound of their live shows on record. The album gets off to a strong start with the opening driving rocker “Unnatural Disaster”, with more than a hint of Uriah Heep about it. John Sykes’ keyboards focus on atmosphere and texture rather than solos, with a lot of Hammond organ, leaving Adam Dawson’s guitar as the main lead instrument, and Heidi’s raw bluesy vocal style is a big contrast with most other bands in the scene.

Heidi’s semi-acoustic “Soul in a Jar” shows the bands’ softer side, featuring some very evocative low whistle. Other highlights include Adam’s “Mirror Mirror”, with some fantastic slide guitar. “Bitterness Fades” again has a Uriah Heep vibe, this time evoking their late-70s “Fallen Angel” era.

Adam Dawson sings lead on a couple of songs, with Heidi adding harmonies, one of them being the atmospheric “Silver Skies”, another album highlight, and one of the songs first performed live back in Breathing Space days. The album ends with the epic “Perfect Wave”, ending in extended guitar work-out.

Stolen Earth do a great line in epic wall-of-sound rock ballads with lengthy guitar solos, with many songs clocking in at seven, eight or even nine minutes in length. One or two shorter, punchier songs might have added some variety, but you can’t escape the fact the band do what they do well.

There’s a lot of Mostly Autumn’s Liam Davison in Adam Dawson’s guitar playing; indeed many of the instrumental passages have a similar vibe to parts of Davison’s 2011 solo album “A Treasure of Well-Set Jewels”. The combination of low whistle and Floydian atmospherics is also always going to evoke early Mostly Autumn, although Heidi Widdop’s has a very different vocal style, which is ironic when Heidi was actually a member of a very early lineup of that band.

One concern is that the similarity to early Mostly Autumn could be something of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, this album ought to appeal strongly to fans of Mostly Autumn’s early days, especially as that band have long since have moved on, adopting a harder-edged and more contemporary sound. But I’ve always felt that one reason for Breathing Space’s relative lack of success was that they never quite managed to establish a clear identity of their own. Hopefully Stolen Earth will manage to avoid falling into the same trap.

A couple of caveats aside, “A Far Cry From Home” is still a very good record. If you love well-crafted grown-up music performed by real singers and musicians putting their heart and soul into what they’re doing, I can strongly recommend this album.

The album is available from the Stolen Earth website.

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Stolen Earth, Post Office Social Club, York

Paul and Heidi of Stolen Earth at The Post Office Social Club, York

Stolen Earth’s official launch gig took place on September 17th, in the Post Office Social club in York, the same venue as the launch gig for Breathing Space’s album “Coming Up For Air”, which seems half a lifetime away now. As a showcase gig, it attracted a sizeable audience, with a lot of dedicated fans travelling far and wide. Nice to see Bryan and Livvy from Mostly Autumn in the crowd.

Paul Teasdale of Stolen Earth at The Post Office Social Club, York

While the band had formed from the ashes of Breathing Space, almost all the material was new. Much of the set had been premièred at the Cambridge Rock Festival back in August, and I certainly remembered songs such as “Mirror Mirror” and the anthemic “Perfect Wave” from that performance. To fill out a headline-length show they included a couple of covers, an excellent take of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” which got some of the audience up an dancing, and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” with Paul Teasdale on 12-string. They encored with Paul’s “Clear”, the only song recorded by Breathing Space to remain in the set.

Adam Dawson of Stolen Earth at The Post Office Social Club, York

Unfortunately the sound mix left a bit to be desired, with John Sykes’ keys too low in the mix and some of the Adam’s vocals a bit muffled. That combined with monitor problems meant the set didn’t quite have the power and energy of their triumphal Cambridge set. Not that it was a bad gig by any means, and I’ve heard far, far worse mixes at Breathing Space gigs over the years, but it does show that for their sort of atmospheric multi-layered rock the soundman is just as important as anyone on stage.

Heidi Widdop of Stolen Earth at The Post Office Social Club, York

But despite those sound problems, Stolen Earth do seem have got off to a good start. They’ve got a powerful set of songs, and while there are strong echoes of Breathing Space in their sound, Heidi’s soulful voice and Adam’s very Floydy guitar gives them a distinctive musical identity of their own. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how their music develops, and hope they record an album sooner rather than later.

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2011 – Part Two

Saturday started with some semi-acoustic blues from Cherry Lee Mewis, with an energetic and enjoyable set, backed by a tight band including a stand-up bass and largely acoustic guitars, followed by The Steve Boyce band, who I found a bit generic, but did have a great guitar sound.

Ebony Tower impressed me a lot. With a female lead singer who reminded me a little of a young Sonja Kristina, and electric violin as a major element of their sound, you might have expected something like Curved Air. In fact they sounded nothing like that at all, bits of prog and goth, and a lot of rock and roll. Certainly a band to watch out for in the future.

There was a lot of anticipation for Stolen Earth, formed from the ashes of the much-loved York band Breathing Space. With four members of the final incarnation of that band on board including lead singer Heidi Widdop, it was clear that a lot of the spirit of Breathing Space was still there, and to me it felt less like that debut gig of a brand new band that Heidi’s debut fronting Breathing Space did on the same stage exactly a year before. Great to see some keyboard player John Sykes with some vintage instruments on stage including a big wooden-bodied organ.

Aside from the two new songs “My Lips Are Too Dry” and “Silver Skies” which had been in the set for the short-lived final lineup of Breathing Space, all the songs were new, and suited Heidi’s soulful voice. They sounded if anything a little more proggy than Breathing Space, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Tuscany Sun”, released as a teaser on YouTube, came over very well live. Other highlights were “Unnatural Disaster” with it’s incessant bass groove, and “Perfect Wave”, backed by a huge wall of Hammond organ. Every bit as good as I’d expected them to be, and a band I’m sure we’re going to be hearing great things from in the coming months and years.

Swans in Flight were another discovery of the day, with some great melodic hard rock. They threw in a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Stone Cold” mid-set, the Hammond organ backing making it sound more like a Deep Purple song than anything else. With much of the crowd sunning themselves outside the tent, playing a familiar song was a smart move and encouraged a few more people to listen to their own songs.

What can I say about Panic Room? I’ve already seen this Swansea band five times this year, and this was well up to the very high standard of their gigs throughout the year. Opening with the as yet unrecorded prog-metal epic “Song for Tomorrow”, the played a their high-energy mix of rock, pop and prog drawing from both their albums, plus their superb swamp-blues cover of ELP’s “Bitches Crystal”. With another new superb and quite epic new song “Promises” in the set, their next album is already something fans are eagerly anticipating. As I’ve said before, Yatim Halimi and Gavin Griffiths are possibly the best rhythm section in any band in their scene. Paul Davies’ plays some shredding solos and melodic fills, and his playing really seems to have come alive in the last year. Jon Edwards’ keys add swathes of colour, and frontwoman Anne-Marie Helder is a genuine star who fully deserved being voted best female vocalist last year by the readers of Classic Rock Presents Prog. They laid down the challenge to the rest of the bill, “top that”.

Aireya 51 couldn’t really follow that. I wasn’t over-impressed with them last year, and they weren’t really any better this time. Without Keith’s more famous brother Don to help them out this time, I found their set rather dull. Sure, Keith Airey is a talented guitarist who played some shredding solos, but he lacked both the songs and the charisma to stand out from the crowd.

Not so with Chantel McGregor. She’d wowed the festival last year with a slot very early on in the day. Now much higher up the bill she seemed almost overwhelmed by the huge size of the crowd, and delivered a superb set, mixing blues standards with some of the rockier songs from her debut album “Like No Other”, including her mesmerising extended take on Robin Trower’s “Daydream”. Just how does someone that young get to play guitar like that? Her playing isn’t just technically skilled, but dripping with emotion too, and she’s more than talented as a singer and songwriter too. I think she’s going to be making a big splash in the wider world in the coming years.

Larry Miller blew the roof off with one of the hardest-rocking sets I’ve ever seen from a blues artist. He was great last year, this year he was even better. The high-energy blues-rock of his opening numbers reminded me a lot of Rory Gallagher. Then he slowed things down with an extended slow-blues workout with some brain-melting soloing. Finally he ended with his take on some classic standards, a medley beginning with “All Along the Watchtower” and ending with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”.

Finally, headliners The Quireboys. Although for me at least they were nowhere near as good as Larry, Chantel or Panic Room earlier in the day, their brand of no-nonsense party rock with echoes of bands like The Faces and The Rolling Stones was still a great way to end the evening.

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The Five Songs Meme – Mid-summer edition.

Time, I think for the Five Songs meme to be cast into the Blogofacetwitsphere again, for what it’s worth. And the five songs from me are:

Heather Findlay – Red Dust
Panic Room – Song for Tomorrow
Stolen Earth – Tuscany Sun
Morpheus Rising – Those Who Watch
Blood Ceremony – Daughter of the Sun

So, four songs with a Mostly Autumn connection, either containing ex-members, or sharing members with the current lineup. And the last one, which has no MA connection that I’m aware of, does have flute all over it.

Red Dust is the opening number from Heather Findlay’s “The Phoenix Suite”, a record I find I’m liking a lot more now I’ve had the chance to hear the songs performed live. This hard rocker came over very powerfully, even in stripped-down acoustic form.

Song for Tomorrow is yet to be released, but has got stuck in my head simply from hearing it performed live at the recent Panic Room gigs, which is surely a sign of a memorable song. It’s a big epic guitar-driven song with a great riff and a strong vocal melody. A classic in the making, I think.

Tuscany Sun is the first new song we’ve heard from Stolen Earth since the formation of the band earlier this year. As with the Panic Room song above, if there’s more where that came from, then we’ve got some good music to look forward too in the coming year.

Those Who Watch comes from the five song EP “The Original 2008 Demos” which I picked up when I saw Morpheus Rising supporting The Reasoning last year, but never really gave a serious listen until now. There’s some great songwriting here despite decidedly rough-and-ready production, and this brooding number is my favourite from the EP.

Daughter of the Sun is the ten-minute closing number from Blood Ceremony’s second album “Living with the Ancients”. With it’s doom-laden guitar riff, bewitching flute and sinister swirling organ, it sums up everything I like about this band.

OK, so you all (both of you) know the drill by now. List five songs you’re grooving on right now and post them on your Blog/Livejournal/Facebook wall or wherever.

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Stolen Earth – Tuscany Sun

A taster from Stolen Earth, whose new website goes live any day now. This is the first new song we’ve heard from them, and I like it a lot. Very strong echoes of Breathing Space, with a hint of recent Marillion for good measure.

Can’t wait to see them live at the Cambridge Rock Festival in August now – they’re playing on Saturday along with Panic Room, Chantel McGregor, Larry Miller and headliners The Quireboys.

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