The ever-popular Proclaimers arrived in Cambridge as part of their latest tour. First on stage was Pete Williams; as a vocal foil to Kevin Rowland in Dexys (and an original member of the band from its founding in 1978) he knows how to build a rapport with the audience as his well-paced set related tales of growing up, working and relationships, drawn from his two albums and ably played by his compact band.
Craig and Charlie Reid have continued to perform to packed halls and festival audiences and their music has lodged itself into the general consciousness. The opening ‘Sky Takes The Soul’ from their first album recalled the days when they performed as a duo rather than with the multi-textured full band now featured.
They still pack a punch with their powerful semi-shouting vocal delivery, of course with no concessions to rock and roll conventions by modulating their Scottish accents. They have so many good songs, from the wistful longings of ‘Letter From America’, the infectious optimism of ‘Lets Get Married’, the waltzing splendour of ‘Spinning Around In The Air’ to the relentless barrage of ‘Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’.
As many new bands steer clear of any political or controversial references the Proclaimers are happy to step up on Independence (‘Cap In Hand’) and immigration (‘Scotland’s Story’). Then of course there is the one that everyone knows, ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’, closing the main set tonight, a song that most folk-rock exponents would be very glad to have written.
Their other anthem ‘Sunshine On Leith’ is a perfect song, with an emotional and musical timelessness (a future national anthem for an independent Scotland?). The film of the same name has given their profile a recent boost (gently affecting ‘Misty Blue’ one of several tunes featured tonight) and as they continue to record and perform they will go on forever….?