Breathing Space

February 27, 2010 - Bluescafe Apeldoorn (NL)

Breathing Space is the band that Iain Jennings (keyboard player from Mostly Autumn) started after the release of his first solo album with the same title 5 years ago. I did not know what to expect when I had the chance to see them perform for the first time outside the UK. After viewing some live footage on YouTube it became very clear that I would have to start taking their musicianship seriously.

The gigs in the lowlands (The Netherlands & Belgium) would be very special because not only was their female vocalist, Olivia Sparnenn, doing her farewell tour with the band (before she took over as lead vocalist for Mostly Autumn after Heather Findlay's departure), but they had also taken with them guest guitarist, Bryan Josh from Mostly Autumn as well. I had expected the opening tune at the Blues Café in Apeldoorn to be the instrumental piece Escape from the Breathing Space album. Instead they climbed the stage to the backdrop of some spacey-sounding synthesizer washes and drones. I wasn’t that far off being right as in the past the band really did start their shows with this tune, as Iain confessed during the break.

The first track Forgive Or Surrender started off as a sort of Garden Party (Marillion) intro but as soon as Olivia opened her mouth the song moved in another direction. Guest player Bryan Josh showed for the first time that he can do a fine guitar solo during the title track of the Coming Up For Air. The first Mostly Autumn tune on the setlist was obviously written by Mr Jennings himself. The mellow Pink Floyd inspired piece, Hollow sounded very strong. The only thing different (compared to the original version) was the absence of Heather’s voice. Olivia proved on Rain Song she was a strong singer leaving no one in any doubt how good she really is. After that number, bass player, Paul Teasdale invited the crowd to dance before the track Run For Yourself started. The last track of the first set was You Still Linger - a song about people no longer with us, yet still look down upon us from on high. A beautiful piece to end the set with an amazing guitar climax by Mr. Josh who had us gasping for breath after his excellent solo.

The break was a great way to catch up with the musicians for a lot of people although they kept it short because they wanted to get second set started quickly. At the beginning of Belief somebody started to sing Nothing Compared 2 U from Sinéad O’Conner. Well it did sound a bit the same but only at the start. This song also proved that Olivia is a good choice for leading lady in Mostly Autumn. Again she showed she had a very wide vocal range. Another original song from this band was also done during the second set. A song that showcased a real duel between Olivia and Bryan, but this time around they did the normal studio version of Never The Rainbow. The most beautiful piece from the band was left for the end of the set. Once again the band put everything they had into it with Bryan and Olivia standing out, and it became very clear why Questioning Eyes was the winner of the Classic Rock Society Best Song 2009 award.

The band almost made it off stage but came back to do one final encore. The Gap Is Too Wide was not often seen on a Mostly Autumn set list in the past although it’s certainly a strong song written by Iain himself for the band in their early days. It was the perfect ending of a perfect concert done by a band in great shape. Too bad the first tour with Olivia (outside the UK) was also the last tour with her with this band. Auditions for a replacement are already taking place. Hopefully we’ll see Breathing Space more often in the Netherlands, even with a different female lead singer fronting up.

(Read also our review of their latest album: Below The Radar)

Henri Strik (edited by Paul Watson)


Set 1:
Forgive Or Surrender
The Senses
Coming Up For Air
Rain Song
Run For Yourself
You Still Linger

Set 2:
Time Tells All the Unknown
The Night Takes You Home
Wasted All The Time
Searching For My Shadow
Never The Rainbow
When I Hold On To You
Questioning Eyes

The Gap Is Too Wide

Pictures Breathing Space by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Bryan Josh (guest):
Guitar, backing vocals
Paul Teasdale:
Barry Cassells (half visible):
Olivia Sparnenn:
Lead vocals
Iain Jennings:
Main keyboards, backing vocals
Ben Jennings:

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