Eddi Reader was at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, on Friday 26th April, both promoting her new album “Cavalier” and celebrating her 40th year as a live performer.
With her band of Boo Hewardine, John Douglas, Kevin McGuire, Allan Kelly and Steph Geremia, Eddi performed a selection of songs from Cavalier, including “Maiden’s Lament”, “Meg O’ The Glen”, and “Deirdre’s Farewell to Scotland”, all of which had a very traditional Scottish feel to them. There was a complete change of pace with the beautiful “Starlight”, which had a 1950s ballroom vibe to it, and “My Favourite Dress”, a poignant song written for an elderly lady with dementia.
But the evening wasn’t just about the new songs, and there were many old favourites performed in a set lasting almost two hours, from Eddi’s Fairground Attraction days with “Perfect”, through to “Wild Mountainside” (written for Eddi by her husband John Douglas), and her beautiful interpretations of Robert Burns’ love poems “My Love is Like a Red Red Rose” and “Ae Fond Kiss”.
Of course, no Eddi Reader concert is complete without Eddi’s stories and banter, and tonight was no exception. Her stories of family gatherings were brought vividly to life, culminating in her Auntie Jean’s surprising rendition of “Moon River”. Previously, I’d only seen Eddi perform in smaller venues, and I wasn’t sure about seeing her in such a large venue as the Festival Theatre, but the familiar warmth, humour, and interaction with the audience were all still there, and it was obvious that Eddi is a performer whose work means such a lot and brings a great deal of pleasure to so many people.
Opening the evening, and joining in on some numbers with Eddi, was local lass Siobhan Miller from Penicuik, with backing musicians Euan Burton and Innes White. Siobhan is a very talented young singer and songwriter who, like Eddi, has the ability to pull the audience in with her warm and friendly personality. Along with singing her own compositions, it was nice also to hear her give credit to Dick Gaughan from whom she learned the protest song, “Pound a Week Rise”.
As always, Eddi doesn’t believe in leaving the stage and then coming back for an encore, and the band simply kept playing, well past the time they were scheduled to finish, with song after song, including audience requests, leaving everyone in the audience with a smile on their faces.
Review by Lisa Sibbald