At the beginning of the year Heather Findlay shocked the progressive rock world by announcing that she was leaving Mostly Autumn after more than a decade to embark on a solo career. The band announced that no way could she be allowed to leave without a proper goodbye. So she would be making one last farewell appearance with the band, at The Assembly in Leamington Spa on Good Friday. Shortly afterwards came the announcement that the show would be recorded for a DVD release.
This is that DVD.
Beginning with the now familiar opening hard rocker “Fading Colours”, the first disk shows a tight, professional performance, typical of their shows throughout last year captured on the two excellent “Live 2009″ CDs. But the second half of the show ratchets up the emotional intensity by several notches, and by the end it’s actually quite draining to watch. This is a band really putting their heart and soul into the music, and some of the band are close to tears by the end. As are many of the audience.
The setlist is pretty much the same as the band were playing towards the end of last year, a greatest hits set skewed slightly in favour of Heather’s songs; all-time favourites like “Shrinking Violet”, “Evergreen”, “Passengers” and “Carpe Diem” as well as recent songs like the powerful Stevie Nicks influenced “Unoriginal Sin.” The DVD includes the entire two and a half hour show, completely unedited, with all the song introductions, and the emotional farewells at the end.
While the band’s performance is absolutely “as it happened”, they’ve clearly taken a great deal of care in the mixing, mastering and video editing, and that time and effort has paid off. Audio and video quality are both excellent; every instrument and voice of the eight-piece band can be heard clearly, including Anne-Marie Helder’s flute and Olivia Sparnenn’s backing vocals, and the camerawork is excellent given the limitations of the venue’s stage lighting. The video editing is absolutely superb, and really manages to capture what it’s like to be in the front row at a Mostly Autumn gig. Closeups of band members naturally favour Heather, and to a lesser extent Bryan Josh. Anne-Marie gets a fair bit of camera time during the flute solos, although you only get occasional glimpses of one or two of the band.
As someone who was there, this DVD not only succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of that emotional night, but shows what a class act Mostly Autumn can be on stage, and of course, shows what a great singer and charismatic frontwoman they had in Heather Findlay. I look forward to her solo career with great interest.
Just eight days later, Mostly Autumn took to the stage again in Gloucester, with former backing vocalist Olivia Sparnenn taking over as the band’s new lead singer. But that’s another story.
The DVD is available from Mostly Autumn Records