Fireworks

Concert Reviews

Heather Findlay Band / Halo Blind Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     May 27, 2016    
 
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Heather Findlay Band / Halo Blind - Citadel, St. Helens (UK) - 15 April 2016

There is a distinctly Mostly Autumn feel about tonight's show, due to the fact a number of the musicians performing have passed through their ranks in recent years, or are still active members whenever they record or tour.

The bulk of Halo Blind's set is made up of material from their most recent album, 2014's 'Occupying Forces'. I'm unfamiliar with the band, but recognise singer/guitarist Chris Johnson, drummer Alex Cromarty and bass player Stu Fletcher. A keyboard player/vocalist and guitarist complete the line-up and the five of them together play some powerful songs that threaten to head in a Progressive direction but ultimately tend to take a more direct Rock music approach. Song titles such as 'Smithereens', 'Torrential', 'Downpour' and 'Coma' are indication of the dark musical and lyrical nature of the songs and the powerful delivery certainly gives everything a strong identity and projects the subject matter with a fierce intensity. I'm unused to seeing Johnson in this role, but he proves to be an amiable front-man and his vocals are good, proving if anything that he is underused as just a rhythm guitarist or keyboard player in Mostly Autumn. A tad melancholy for some and beer was certainly the order of the day when they left the stage.

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The Heather Findlay Band take to the stage and it is no surprise to see Cromarty, Fletcher and Johnson on double duty. With Angela Gordon on keyboards (plus vocals/flute), Sarah Dean on backing vocals and John Mitchell (It Bites) on lead guitar, Heather Findlay has assembled an accomplished group to do justice to the songs featured on 'The Illusion's Reckoning', the recently released album created by the project she initiated with Miami-based recording engineer Dave Kerzner under the title of Mantra Vega. During this current tour of the UK '...Reckoning' is being played in full and that obviously takes up most of the set time. Each song is faithfully reproduced and it works really well as one piece of work, even more so because the songs have a great identity and also impact individually. Findlay's vocals are stunning throughout the whole show and Mitchell's solos add a cultured dimension to proceedings. Personal favourites from the album include the very Stevie Nicks-like 'Islands' and 'Veil Of Ghosts', which both come very early in the set. The rest of the songs pack a little more power in the live environment and that simply adds to the appeal. The lengthy closing title track contains some skilful Mitchell moments and Findlay's range is fully tested. The two Mostly Autumn songs that we are treated to as the show draws to a close ('Carpe Diem' and 'Shrinking Violet') are full of emotion and match any of their airings in the past, clearly indicating Findlay's passion for them.

The Citadel is the perfect venue for a show such as this and the acoustics are always spot on. The intimacy lends itself to the atmospheric nature of the music and provides the listener/watcher with a great opportunity to get up close and personal. A great night with the added bonus of being just two miles from home.

Dave Bott

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