Eddi Reader + The Alan Kelly Gang

Venue: Hawkswell Theatre
Town: Sligo
Date: 14/2/15
Website: http://www.eddireader.co.uk/

It is a given that an Eddi Reader gig always carries with it a sense of occasion, and following a short , snappy and well-paced set from the AKG which strongly featured the compositional and vocal skills of flute player Steph Geremia, she took the stage brandishing in her hand a piece of paper, saying "look, I have a set list-I never have a set list, and Perfect isnae on it!"

What followed was an object lesson-for almost two hours-of how to sing beautifully crafted songs, and commune directly with a most receptive audience, often using them as the choral backup to the material. The set itself was a mix of traditional, self-penned, and that of other writers, one of whom , Boo Hewerdine, played guitar in her band , and supplied bv's when appropriate. Kicking off with "I'll Never Be The Same", which featured a beautiful box break after the second verse, it quickly became obvious that this was to be no ordinary gig. With Eddi, every song has a back story, usually featuring a departed family member who had a nicotine and/or an alcohol dependency, often both! A case in point was "Back The Dogs", a song constructed around advice from her granny, who, in retrospect , didn't seem to have much luck with the aforementioned quadrupeds. It is a noisy beast of a song, but as quickly as it finishes, she segues into "Ae Fond Kiss"-"a breakup song for Valentine's!", featuring lovely work from husband John Douglas on mandolin.

Eddi Reader-whose time, it appears, has come round again-is a supremely gifted singer, -and DID sing "Perfect"-who relies on the past for much of the background to her material, but who paints these influences on to a contemporary canvas with no little skill. This was one of the very best gigs we have been to in quite some time, and will, no doubt, be right there in the shake-up at years end. If all the others we plan to see come anywhere near, there is surely much to look forward to.

Oliver P. Sweeney

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