“I’m a one trick pony” joked Ailbhe Reddy to her attentive crowd at Hackney’s Moth Club last week. Referring to the similar content of the songs that make up her latest album, Endless Affair – “this one’s about being hungover” – Reddy’s self deprecating remarks and tender, clear vocals charmed her listeners at the East London venue.
Opening her set with bittersweet anthem ‘Between Your Teeth’, which is taken from her debut album Personal History, Reddy was backed by a full band for the majority of her show. Pausing briefly between songs to share personal anecdotes, including her memory of the disastrous last time she played piano live – “I covered a little song called ‘Imagine’, don’t know if you’ve heard of it? It didn’t go well” – Reddy’s headline performance made up for her past mistakes.
With a setlist full of tracks from her second album Endless Affair, Reddy delivered great renditions of ‘Inhaling’, ‘Shoulderblades’, ‘Last To Leave’ and the hugely relatable ‘Shitshow’, on which she scrutinizes her drunken reflection. On record, Reddy’s poetic, vulnerable lyrics are balanced alongside her wry humour, and this translated well in a live setting too. Whether Reddy was learning to “take love where it’s planted” on the beautifully sincere ‘Bloom’, trying to get under and ex’s skin on ‘ILYW’ (‘I’m Losing You’re Winning’), or simply owning up to being ‘A Mess’, she managed to retain these key elements of her craft under the spotlight.
Songs from her debut album, Personal History, also made the cut, including ‘Looking Happy’ and the title track, on which Reddy passionately repeated the lyric “I don’t want to go on dates / and hear personal history / I don’t want to share my own / unless it’s you listening”, which proved to be a real highlight of the set.
Whilst Reddy clearly relished playing with a full band behind her, there were moments when the collective volume of the instruments overpowered her vocal. This was atoned for at the end of the set, when she played her final three songs solo. Closing the night with the emotive ‘Pray For Me’, which was dedicated to her late Grandmother, Reddy’s crowd listened intently as she shared stories about the “wordless promises” she made to her relative in the latter stages of her life. It was a poignant and powerful note to end the set on, and one which will ensure fans keep coming back to see Reddy play live again.
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Photo credit: Niamh Barry