Music reviews: Eddi Reader | Criolo And Withered Hand

Eddi Reader brought her own special magic to the Celtic Connections event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Picture: Robert Perry

Eddi Reader brought her own special magic to the Celtic Connections event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Picture: Robert Perry

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There was no doubting the popularity of this Celtic Connections ticket.

Eddi Reader

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Star rating: ****

By her own admission, Eddi Reader’s career entered a new chapter when she began interpreting the music of that up-and-coming songwriter Robert Burns, and a generous proportion of this set was given over to Burnsong, both popular – including a slightly fussy Green Grow The Rashes and fragrant renditions of My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose and Ae Fond Kiss – and lesser-known curiosities such as the tongue-twisting Brose and Butter, for which she issued a cautionary instruction to the band: “Don’t do it too fast – I’m on the HRT.”

Reader was comfortable but not complacent in the company of her regular bandmates, including Boo Hewerdine, John Douglas and Steve Hamilton on piano – almost stealing the show with the gorgeous cascading intro to Buain Na Rainich – whose ranks were augmented for the occasion by CC favourites John McCusker and Michael McGoldrick and the Scottish Festival Strings to create a super string band, delivering a fresh, blithe You’re Welcome, Willie Stewart, a cheeky, full-bodied Charlie Is My Darling and sensitive backing to Reader’s rendition of silver love song John Anderson, My Jo.

Her family provided the inspiration for much of the rest of the set. The carefree Back The Dogs drew on her Irish grandmother’s anecdotes, Sail Baby Sail salved her parental anxieties and she channelled the memory of Reader family parties into a lovely, lush Moon River.

FIONA SHEPHERD

Seen on 20.01.15

Criolo And Withered Hand

Abc2, Glasgow

Star rating: ****

It was unclear what had inspired this mixed – and at one point fleetingly collaborative – Celtic Connections bill, pairing one of Brazil’s biggest rappers Criolo with cult Scottish indie-folk/pop singer-songwriter Withered Hand, AKA Dan Willson. Perhaps it was something to do with their shared lyrical flow? Unless you spoke Portuguese, it was hard to tell.

Backed by a full six-piece band, Willson’s set was a spotless representation of why he’s one of the most unanimously respected voices on the Scottish indie scene. The bulk of the sizeable crowd, though, was here for the headliner – who knew so many Brazilians lived in Glasgow? What followed was an illuminating taste of how it presumably feels for much of the rest of the world when English-language artists tour the globe singing and speaking purely in their native tongue. Save for Criolo’s occasional impassioned appeals for “positive vibrations”, subtitles were needed.

Likewise backed by a sizeable band – four players on bass, drums, guitar and keys – whatever Criolo was passionately and expressively evoking in his heavy hip-hop songs with samba and reggae flourish (“trenchant, poetic critiques of modern Brazil,” says the programme), it sounded important, and was feverishly received.

Things got deliciously strange when Willson was welcomed back on stage after a time to uncertainly strum his acoustic guitar throughout one number – a token effort to bridge the oceanic stylistic, linguistic and geographic gap between these two artists, but a nice sentiment nevertheless.

MALCOLM JACK

Seen on 21.01.15

Roaming Roots Revue

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Star rating: ****

On only its third annual outing, the Roaming Roots Revue, curated and hosted by singer/songwriter Roddy Hart, has established itself as a younger cousin of the Transatlantic Sessions, bringing musicians from home and away together in celebration of a particular theme or tradition.

This year’s focus fell on pop music’s vocal harmony greats – songs by The Beatles, Everly Brothers and Hart’s beloved Teenage Fanclub all featured – even if alt.country maverick Howe Gelb rightly recognised that his distinctive, droll baritone and stride piano were not for blending.

Elsewhere, there was a plethora of acoustic guitars and two-part harmonies, breezily contrasting with electric numbers drawing on the beefy backing of Hart’s band Lonesome Fire and a top drawer brass section, all brilliantly employed on The Pierces’ cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain.

There were treats galore – The Lost Brothers covering Ricky Nelson’s Lonesome Town, the falsetto shivers of Grant Lee Phillips, Richard and Linda Thompson’s A Heart Needs A Home sung by their daughter Kami. But it was another family act, the Parkington Sisters, who stole the show with their spine-tingling a capella tribute to harmony daddies The Beach Boys.

Of the original material aired, Dawn Landes’ Bluebird was beautifully embellished by Ruth Moody’s harmonies and the Parkingtons’ strings, while Colin MacLeod’s Easy Way Out, performed with Rachel Sermanni, was a simple yet disarming contrast to the scrappy, good-natured massed renditions of Mrs Robinson and All You Need Is Love which brought this loving celebration to a close.

FIONA SHEPHERD

Seen on 18.01.15

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