John Bramwell (former frontman of I Am Kloot) opened the show with a combination of intriguing lyrics and intricate acoustic guitar lines, delivered with warmth and clarity. His sparse and thoughtful songs made an instant connection with the audience.
Two thirds of the way through a huge sold-out tour The Proclaimers return to Cambridge and as usual they deliver musically and emotionally to a packed hall of adoring fans. The show started with the title track from their new album; the duo continues to record and featured new songs throughout the set.
‘Over and Done With’ and ‘Should Have Been Loved’ are up-tempo fun songs boosted by their appearance in the excellent ‘Sunshine on Leith‘ movie, but it is the irresistible swirl of ‘Let’s Get Married’ and their debut hit ‘Letter from America’ that first raise the roof. At the heart of the show are many hidden gems; going back to their guitar/vocal roots for ‘Misty Blue’, the simple beauty of ‘Make My Heart Fly’ and spiritual intensity of ‘Sky Takes the Soul’. The political messages are still strong too, with the independence theme of ‘Cap in Hand'(from 1988) and especially the moving description of immigration ‘Scotland’s Story’ (2014) sounding bang up to date.
Craig and Charlie Reid have created a huge back catalogue of memorable songs with the contrasting giants of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’ being the best known. Towards the end of the set these were of course received with massive enthusiasm as the superb band sound soared into the rafters of the venue. Finally, the party atmosphere of ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’ sent us away happy into the rain and fireworks until the next time…
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….?