Most people know that Heather Findlay left Mostly Autumn in 2010. She was replaced by background singer Olivia 'Livy' Sparnenn, who had made a career of her own as the lead vocalist in Breathing Space. Heather Findlay got a farewell gig at Leamington Spa on April 2, 2010. This show was very well documented on the DVD That Night In Leamington (see review). However, only few people know that Olivia Sparnenn got a farewell gig with Breathing Space as well. This event happened two days later on April 4 at the Robin 2 in Bilston. Her final concert with the band has also been recorded for a release on CD and DVD. I felt very lucky to get hold of a copy of Below The Radar, The Live DVD because I was curious to know how this farewell gig turned out. The DVD covers the complete performance and it contains the same emotional elements as can be seen on the DVD of Mostly Autumn. Since I had witnessed the band a month earlier (see review), I knew what I could expect.
The DVD shows the musicians entering the stage while some spacey-sounding synthesizer sounds and drones can be heard. The first track Forgive Or Surrender starts off as a sort of Garden Party intro by Marillion, but as soon as Olivia starts to sing the song moves in another direction. She's dressed in a beautiful red gown that makes her a real eye-catcher for people in front of the stage, but also on TV. First highlight of the first set is undoubtedly the Mostly Autumn-cover Hollow. Unfortunately the close-ups of the musicians during the first 45 minutes aren't that excellent. The band's mastermind Iain Jennings has even been filmed badly. Only toward the end of the first set a camera gets a good shot of his keyboards. Drummer Barry Cassells gets better close-ups too after a while. The last track of the first set is You Still Linger. This is another highlight containing an amazing guitar solo by guest musician Bryan Josh (Mostly Autumn), who replaced Liam Davison. He had other commitments and was unable to continue with the band.
During the break Olivia has put on other cloths. This time she's wearing a purple corset. The highlights of the second set are the beautiful songs Belief and Searching For My Shadow. However, the second Mostly Autumn-cover Never The Rainbow turned out to be outstanding as well. For this occasion the song is performed without the extra guitar parts, but with a kind of duet between Olivia's voice and Iain's organ. The first encore is The Gap Is Too Wide, the final cover of Mostly Autumn. This has always been one of my favourite Mostly Autumn-tunes and this live version by Breathing Space again shows the reason why. This emotional song with a breathtaking climax is the perfect ending for Olivia Sparnenn's final performance with the band. After she had been given flowers there's one song left to perform: Questioning Eyes. The Classic Rock Society chose this song to be the best of 2009. Indeed, this is a great song that Olivia also performed with Mostly Autumn on their first tour as a lead singer. The brilliant guitar solo at the end certainly is one of the reasons why this is a classic piece. A lot of hugs and kisses finish off this excellent concert. However, I didn't feel the same emotions as during Heather Findlay's farewell performance. I think that's not so strange. Heather had been in the band for thirteen years and Olivia only a couple of years. Of course it's always sad to say goodbye no matter how long one participated in a band.
The overall feeling about this release is okay, since you get a fine impression of a Breathing Space-concert. It's a historic document since Breathing Space disbanded lately. Maybe the camera work was less than on the latest DVD of Mostly Autumn, but the music can easily compete with the music on That Night In Leamington. Both the CD and the DVD are available from the band's website.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013