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LIVE: THE PROCLAIMERS – Perth, WA 24 Feb 2023

| 26 February 2023 | Reply

LIVE: THE PROCLAIMERS – Perth, WA 24 Feb 2023
Perth Concert Hall, Perth, Western Australia – Friday, 24 February 2023
Review & photography by Pete Gardner

Scots twins Craig and Charlie Reid, AKA The Proclaimers, started their 10 date Australian tour at the sold-out Perth Concert Hall last night to a rapturous welcome from the Perth crowd, made-up of a very large contingent of ex-pat Scots, proud for a night to wear their St Andrews crosses on their sleeves. The Brothers took us on a tour de force of their career highlights, with a heady mix of poignant love songs and deeper political commentaries.

Fresh and well-rehearsed following their 35-date tour of the UK at the tail end of last year, the two Auchtermuchty lads showed little sign of the jet lag which so often affects international acts as the start their Aussie tours here in the Wild West.

Somehow I feel I’ve missed out on the greatest part of the Proclaimers career. My hippy student folk rock phase when I was listening almost exclusively to The Oysterband, Capercaillie and Fairport Convention, coincided with their hiatus in the 90’s as the lads took time off to raise families. Since 2001, however, they have released a plethora of albums culminating in Dentures Out, their latest offering, with its subject matter delving deeply into the social crises currently enveloping the UK. The title track itself a scathing critique of the act of collective self-harm that was Brexit. It has been pleasure to catch up with their back catalogue and reacquaint myself with two of Scotland’s premier Indie-Folk singer songwriters.

The show opens bravely with the title track from the new album, the six piece band relaxed and loose, and Craig and Charlie in fine voice. They may not be the young skinny Scot’s lads from late 80’s on Top of the Pops or Countdown anymore, but their close harmony vocals are still on point.

The sound in the Perth Concert Hall is sharp and clean allowing the vocals to shine, and the light show is unpretentious, allowing the music to speak. Zac Ware’s excellent guitar work weaves itself over and around Charlies constantly moving acoustic, Steven Christie on organ and accordion sits in the background but fills the auditorium with sound, and Garry Kane on bass and Clive Jenner on drums form the very solid rhythm section driving the night along like a locomotive at full pelt up the West Highland Rail line. Jenner was a delight to watch on the kit, solid, with excellent timing, thoroughly enjoying himself. He looks the entire night as if he is just holding back, waiting to explode over the kit and show us what he can really do.

The set charges along with little time for banter, in 90 minutes onstage the band powered through 24 songs covering The Proclaimers’ entire career. New songs such as the aforementioned title track, The World That Was and Sundays By John Calvin hold up strongly against the older classics. Sundays drew one of the few pauses in the set as Craig told of the lost Sundays of their youth marred by the
repression of Scottish Calvinism.

The Proclaimers may have initially been seen as a bit of a whimsical novelty act – identical twin brothers singing their very familiar and often parodied hit – but this belies a songwriting skill that has almost perfected the art of the 3-minute tune. Their love songs are sincere and honest, and the rest? Well, much of it would give Billy Bragg a run for his money once you dig deeper into the lyrics. This fact is not lost on many in the audience tonight. Several of those in attendance, kilted up and filled with Scottish pride, becoming self-appointed cheerleaders for the crowd, dancing in the aisles and encouraging everyone else to do the same. This feeling of Scottish Nationalism whelms up during numbers such as Streets of Edinburgh, and Scotland’s Story, with Cap In Hand having a full chorus from the crowd, its special place as an unofficial anthem for Scottish independence celebrated fully.

The biggest cheers of the night go to the crowd favourites, such as Let’s Get Married, Spinning Around In The Air (complete with Mandolin solo), and the well-loved Sunshine on Leith. The biggest noise, however, is reserved for their love song to the Scottish diaspora, Letter From America.

The set charges towards the end of the line with I’m On My Way getting everyone on their feet, before it totally goes off with I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) to finish the main set with everyone dancing, cheering and singing along, kilts rushing to the front of the stage and the yellow Royal Banner of Scotland flag being unfurled in the crowd.

The band return for the obligatory encores, the last song of the night, The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues, finally giving Clive Jenner the chance the burst the dam with an explosive drum solo to close out an excellent night. I must confess, I thought this show was going to be a nice, quiet, sedate affair. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Proclaimers continue their tour hitting Darwin on Sunday night, heading into Queensland for dates in Cairns, Brisbane and the Gold Coast next week, before heading around the rest of the country, and I do believe a few tickets are still available if you are lucky.

Set list:
Dentures Out
Over and Done With
There’s a Touch
Draw Another Line
Let’s Get Married
What Makes You Cry
Streets Of Edinburgh
Hate My Love
Rainbows and Happy Regrets
The World That Was
Cap in Hand
Letter From America
Life With you
Sky Takes the Soul
Then it Comes to Me
Spinning Around in the Air
Scotland’s Story
Sundays By John Calvin
Sunshine on Leith
Then I Met You
I’m On My Way
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

Make My Heart Fly
The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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