Friday, May 13, 2022

Eddi Reader at The Queen’s Hall

Edinburgh, Scotland. Saturday 23-April-2022.

I bought the 12 inch single of Perfect way back in 1988 that helped launch Fairground Attraction on their pop career. Little did I think that I would be seeing the lead singer, Eddi Reader, 34 years later not once but twice once with Steve Harley and now this concert.

We were trying to rustle up interest amongst our friends to see Eddi in concert and by the time results were in Glasgow was sold out and so we ended up booking tickets for the Edinburgh gig. It was just Mary and I and our friend Nigel. We booked ourselves a hotel and were ready for the off when Nigel had to cancel due to catching Covid so it was just the two of us.

We were going to go by train but there were weekend engineering works and the bus replacement service was all the way from Carlisle to Edinburgh doubling the journey time. So we decided to drive instead which wasn’t too painful.

We checked into a boutique hotel with a massive room in the vicinity of the venue. 

We went for a supper in 56 North, a gin bar, distillery and kitchen found by Mary surfing for nearby eating places. Given my predilection for this beverage it turned out to be an excellent choice as it had 400 gins to choose from. Food was also delicious and the ambience lively and friendly with a mixture of groups, couples, across a wide range of ages, some eating, some just having a drink.

Then off to the gig where we were able to get a refund on Nigel‘s ticket. His hotel booking was nonrefundable but this at least helped soften the blow.

The support act was Ultan Conlan who we had seen once before at a Mary Coughlan concert outside Dublin. As well as being a fine singer he was an exemplar of the benefits of seeing a live performance giving us some chat and background to the inspiration for the songs. Eddi came on during Ultan's set and sang one song with him.

Eddi did a fine set with her band including, naturally, Perfect. Every successful artist has that one song that everyone expects to hear whether they want to perform it or not. When we saw James Taylor he quipped that the first time he heard "You’ve got a friend" little did he realise that he was going to be singing it every day for the rest of his life! Similarly in an interview with Pam Ayres she remarked that everyone wants to hear the poem “I wish I looked after my teeth “and she tries to make it sound fresh every time. So it is with Eddi and Perfect. It sounded as fresh and beautifully sung as when I bought that single so many years ago.

After the concert we went in search of a nightcap and ended up in the local Cask and Barrel pub where they had some excellent beers on draft.

The next day it seemed only sensible to play the tourist as who knows when we would be in Edinburgh again.  Since we were in Newington practically at the foot of Arthur's Seat, a volcanic stump on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Foolishly we decided to go up to the top for the great views over Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. It was sunny and very windy but luckily we were dressed for East Coast weather.

On the way back to the car we peered into the Innocent Railway, the oldest railway tunnel in Scotland. We lunched at Southpour and then headed home having an an excellent trip.

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