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REVIEW: Eddi Reader celebrates 40 spellbinding years with a magical Music Hall gig

Eddi Reader was spellbinding at the Music Hall.  Photograph by Andy Thorn
Eddi Reader was spellbinding at the Music Hall. Photograph by Andy Thorn

If you’re celebrating 40 years of being on stage, you’re entitled to come on at the Music Hall with a bit of razzmatazz and fanfare – unless you’re Eddi Reader, of course.

Then you just kind of wander out of the wings and amble over to a table looking for all the world like a roadie setting up, until the audience realise, “oh, it’s her” and bursts into applause and cheers.

But let’s face it… you don’t need a booming “please welcome to the stage, etc”  when you’re Eddi Reader. Because her own voice is introduction enough.

After a quick “hello Aberdeen” and an explanation she was going to sing a wee song on her own to get things going, we were off.

Eddi Reader arrived on stage at the Music Hall with no fanfare or fuss.  Photograph by Andy Thorn

The lovely Footsteps Fall was a great opener, establishing that, yep, THAT voice is just as marvellous as ever it was, whether four decades have passed since we first heard it or not.

Eddi Reader promised early doors she had a lot to get through

Warm-up complete and it was time to welcome her musical gang on stage – including her husband John Douglas and long-time collaborator Boo Hewerdine – to really get the evening going.

Eddi promised early doors that she had a fair bit to get through – four decades of working musical magic will throw up a lot of material – but hopefully, everyone would get something they wanted to hear.

Did they ever. There were Fairground Attraction hits – including the song that started it, Fairground Attraction, and the hit that made Eddi a household name, Perfect.

Eddi Reader and her musical gang on stage at the Music Hall. Photograph by Andy Thorn

The latter came with a loving tribute to her dad, Danny – just one of the many stories of her life Eddi wove through the evening as she chatted and bantered with the audience.

Then came the sublime solo sections of her career, Dragonflies and the wonderful Patience Of Angels.

She encouraged the audience to sing along to Patience, claiming she just wasn’t hitting the high notes it called for anymore. She was fibbing… she was hitting them just fine. But we all sang along nicely.

No matter which song it was, Eddi simply inhabited it

And for those of us obsessed by Eddi’s take on Burns there was plenty to make us gleeful. The rousing Willie Stewart, the heartbreaking way she interprets Ae Fond Kiss, and her jaggy version of Charlie Is My Darling were outstanding.

One of the highlights of the night was also Burns-esque, a sublime blend from Wild Mountainside – penned by her husband John – into Wild Mountain Thyme.

Hat’s the way to do it, as Eddi Reader celebrates 40 years of being on stage. Photograph by Andy Thorn

Watching Eddi at work is a delight. It genuinely seems everything she chooses to sing is on the spur of the moment, as the fancy takes her. Her explanation was that she was just hearing someone in her head suggesting a particular thing to sing at that moment.

Well, whoever it was, their suggestion of doing Semi-Precious was inspired. It was spine-tingling and showcased Eddi’s voice at its best.

No matter which song it was, Eddi simply inhabited it. Eyes closed, arms never stopping, hands hitting each beat, she was always in the moment and so were the audience.

Part of the charm of a night with Eddi is the easy rapport she has with her bandmates on stage and the audience in the hall. It’s like you’ve turned up at a party of old pals, with laughter, song and fond memories of past days.

Eddie Reader was in the moment for every song she performed at the Music Hall.  Photograph by Andy Thorn

Eddi Reader’s take on Moon River was simply spellbinding

And it was Eddi’s reminiscence of parties in her Maryhill childhood home that brought the evening to an end almost exactly two jam-packed hours after she started.

She lovingly recreated one of those gatherings of yore, when the records were put off, and everyone had a song to sing – even those needing cajoled into it.

Eddi essayed beautifully the memory of her mum, Jean, being coaxed into singing – acting it out and making us all there with her.

And when she launched into Moon River it was simply spellbinding.

And with that Eddi finished the evening the way she started it. A cheery wave and off she wandered without fuss,  just leaving a lot of applause and great new memories in her wake.


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