HEATHER FINDLAY TRIO
VENUE aces & eights, london DATE 29/11/2018
Roughly a year and a half has passed since Heather Findlay first brought her trio, with Martin Ledger and Sarah Dean, to this venue to record her live DVD. On that occasion, it felt like the players were still finding their feet in the smaller format of the three-piece. But tonight, the trio brim with an easy confidence, having grown into their own distinct sound.
The evening is split into two sets, the first of which inhabits that fertile ground where folk meets blues and rock, not far removed from Led Zeppelin in an acoustic mood. The opening Unoriginal Sin sets the tone with Findlay sounding superb. Last time, Ledger’s electric guitar tended to overpower the rest of the instruments, but the mix tonight is spot on. Findlay’s voice and acoustic guitar take front and centre, with Ledger’s Telecaster providing support and tasteful bluesy solos, while Dean switches between harp, harmonium, and various woodwind instruments to round out the orchestration.
“Here’s something stompy for you,” says Findlay, introducing Caught In A Fold, from Odin Dragonfly’s Offerings album. Tonight’s set picks freely from Findlay’s catalogue, from Mostly Autumn, the Mantra Vega album with Dave Kerzner, Odin Dragonfly, and her solo releases.
Highlights from the first set include the glorious warmth of Yellow Time, Magnolia
Half Moon, and evergreen, with the latter receiving the loudest acclaim.
Set two sees the trio venturing deeper into the realm of folk, beginning with I Am Snow, wherein Findlay’s high notes are pure as the proverbial driven. With Christmas on the horizon, the trio pull out some seasonally themed covers in the form of Sandy Denny’s Winter Winds, the folk song The Snows They Melt The Soonest, and the 16th century Latin Christmas carol gaudete, which is mainly performed a cappella.
Out of the vaults comes Mostly Autumn’s Steal Away – “Where it all began for me,” says Findlay – and Above The Blue. These midtempo tunes allow Findlay plenty of space to give her voice full rein, particularly with the strippedback arrangements. They finish with Shrinking Violet, another elegant ballad, although one audience member is moved to headbang along as it builds to a crescendo. Perhaps it’s not too soon for another live recording of this line-up, as they seem to be getting better.