Gig Review: Eddi Reader @ St Georges 25/4/17
by Polly Hember
St. George’s, having once been a church, has a rather grand and formal feeling. Eddi Reader’s performance last night, full of jiggy accordion playing, rich double bass and her eccentric, charming and delightfully tangential performance lit up the hall, creating an atmosphere more akin to a big family gathering than a seated concert.
The Scottish singer-songwriter started out in Glaswegian folk clubs, travelling with the circus and performing artists and performing around Europe. She has worked with the likes of punk outfit The Gang of Four, Eurythmics, The Waterboys and Alison Moyet, Mark E. Nevin and more, eventually collaborating with Nevin, Roy Dodds and Simon Edwards to form Fairground Attraction with a UK number one single ‘Perfect’ in 1988. Since then she has toured relentlessly and stands now with 10 solo studio albums.
Touring with her newly released The Best of - album spans her 30+ years in the music industry, her set was delightfully informal and dipped in and out of old favourites ‘Fairground Attraction’ and ‘Kiteflyer’s Hill’ to unrecorded songs, to Boo Hewerdine’s (her guitarist) poetic and heartfelt ‘Old Song’. Throughout many songs she held lined paper in front of her for lyrical assistance, giving an idea about how relaxed and off-the-cuff some of these nascent songs are. Halfway through her performance she slipped into an unexpected and beautiful jazz rendition of Ella Fitzgerald, followed by a slow and heartfelt Amy Winehouse cover before sidestepping back into her folky roots.
Her relaxed attitude to performance was a delight, managing to be witty and personal. The tangential interludes and introductions to each song gave the set a unique sense of explanation and self, with funny stories about airline customer services, her late father, her Fairground Attraction days to stories about her sometimes moody sons. Between the chatty anecdotes, her powerful and pure voice soared, creating a relaxed juxtaposition between entertaining and astonishing her audience.
A candid and highly enjoyable performance from Reader and a brilliantly accomplished band that showcased a lifetime of musical creation and change. Finishing on the highlight of the night, she playacted her reluctant mother being coerced into singing a stunning and gentle cover of Andy William’s ‘Moon River’, marrying her beautiful voice with her ever-refreshing sense of humour.
Eddi Reader and her band are embarking on the rest of their UK tour and her album The Best of Eddi Reader is out now.
Image Credit: Hawk's Well Theatre