When Eddi Reader brings her friends and family on tour, the show becomes less of a performance and more a record of a way of life. Her husband and friends include Scottish musical royalty John Douglas, songwriting legend Boo Hewerdine and Scottish songstress of note, Siobhan Miller. On this tour they are also joined by an accordionist, flautist, and double bass player. This leads to an ridiculous amount of musical talent on one stage, together with an epic amount of experience. Reader has assembled a band that play in the literal sense. Playfulness, creativity and sheer joy in the moment leads to a relaxed and cosy atmosphere and an incredible amount of spontaneity. Reader shares tales of parties with her aunties in Maryhill, and the whole atmosphere is redolent of a Glaswegian Hogmanay house party. There is easy familiarity and it seems the only aim is for everyone to have a great time.
“I don’t have a set list, just a lot of songs”. Reader invites suggestions from the audience and as everyone has their favourite the show includes a loose collection of musical styles. Such is the diversity of Reader and company’s back catalogue it has everything from toe-tapping trad in form of Meg O’ the Glen and Charlie Is My Darling to Perfect pop from her Fairground Attraction days. A better example from this era is the eponymous track, which has far more substance and is delivered with Gallic passion and joyfully received. Reader and friends, though their stories and music, remind us of the auld alliance, being undeniably, patriotically Scottish, yet unmistakably European in outlook. The ensemble move effortlessly from traditional Scottish tunes to Piaf’s French sophistication via the Bard and back again. Politics is never far away and she dedicates Pray the Devil Back to Hell to unworthy politicians.
Reader has a powerful voice of immense dexterity, and she refuses to waste it on anything but outstanding songwriting and lyricism. My Love is Like a Red Red Rose is rendered with immense purity and simplicity and as Reader put it “seems to have charmed the whole world”.
The only problem is that to cover pop, French classics, modern Scottish and Burns treasures time soon runs out and most will inevitably will leave wanting more. Let’s hope we get invited to another of Reader’s evenings with friends soon. She knows how to throw a party.