Review: Eddi Reader, Snape Proms, Snape Maltings, August 8,
PUBLISHED: 12:32 11 August 2014
Eddi Reader’s great gift – apart from a wonderful voice and the ability to pen a good tune – is to reduce a vast concert hall down to the size of an intimidate gathering in the back room of a pub.
This she achieved, with startling ease, in the imposing surroundings of the Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The secret of this wonderful trick is her ability to communicate with her audience and draw them into her world.
She knows how to spin a yarn. Each song has an engaging preamble during which Eddi talks the origins of the song, her colourful family tree and the wayward adventures of Robbie Burns – beware of handsome Scotsmen in kilts is her warning to all the lasses.
Eddi is probably best known as the leader singer of 80s band Fairground Attraction which scored a number one with Perfect. She has long since successfully reinvented herself as a singer-song writer with a strong folk bias.
Accompanied by her long-serving band which includes Boo Hewerdine and husband John Douglas on guitars along with the nimble-fingered Alan Kelly on accordion, she delivered a mix of songs which included contemporary numbers taken from her new album, Vagabond to classics like Moon River and Robbie Burns songs like Ae Fond Kiss, Leezie Lindsay and Aud Lang Syne.
The free and easy nature of the gig was demonstrated by the pick and mix nature of the song selection with Eddi taking a straw poll with the musicians between numbers to determine what they would play next.
At the encore – “I’m not going to do that bit where I go off, you applaud and I come back on again. We can fit in an extra song while that was happening,” – she asked the audience: “What shall we play Wild Mountainside or It’s A Beautiful Night?”
The choice was It’s A Beautiful Night, the closing number from Vagabond, a country song which she said channelled the spirit of Patsy Cline.
It was a wonderful evening which left you feeling that you had just enjoyed a boisterous lock-in at your local hostelry. Even the fact that severe traffic congestion on the M25 and A12 delayed the start of the show by half an hour didn’t put a damper on the evening. Eddi came on stage to a thunderous round of applause and explained that she had landed at Gatwick at 1.30pm and by 7.30pm still hadn’t arrived at Snape.
Later in the evening a member of the band mentioned the afternoon soundcheck to which Eddi responded with a sheepish laugh: “Yeah, I missed that.”
Happily, Eddi was in no hurry to end the evening and by the end had the usually reserved promenaders dancing in the aisles.