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The Proclaimers. The Embassy Theatre, Skegness. 06 August 2022.

The Proclaimers

The Embassy Theatre, Skegness

Saturday 06 August 2022

Thirty five years ago, I was working for the NHS as a trainee accountant in Cardiff, and was less than impressed with my career, so much so that the following year I quit and retrained. My one respite from the drudgery of the job was that, near the hospital I was based in, there was an independent record shop. During my lunch hour, I used to wander down and browse the vinyl available. One day, I saw an intriguing 12" single on Go Discs, home of The Housemartins. It was entitled Letter To America. I asked the shop assistant if they would play it for me. He did, I loved it and bought it on the spot. My love affair with the music of The Proclaimers began right there.

Twins Charlie and Craig Reid went on to carve out a multi-million selling career and their anthemic Scottish influenced post-punk, folky sounds have embedded themselves in the national consciousness ever since. To see artists of this calibre appearing at The Embassy Theatre is a refreshing addition to the venue's packed schedule of entertainment. The fact that the gig was so well attended in the middle of a cost of living crisis is testament to the pulling power the twins still enjoy across the globe. It is incredible to consider that the twins reached the age of sixty in March and are still cutting it up in their live shows.

The evening opened with support act John Bramwell, lead singer of I Am Kloot playing a solo acoustic set. He strolled onto the stage with a nonchalance that proved to be richly deserved. The man is a talent and yet he was more concerned with finding a beer than introducing himself to enjoy the plaudits of the audience. He joked repeatedly about "building up the mystique" by not giving his name to those present, more concerned with seeing the headliners.

He stood defiant with one foot atop a case to allow himself to support each of his electro-acoustic guitars and simply powered through his set with a tremendous sense of self-assurance, blended with self-deprecation. His voice soared and his guitar-playing was exemplary. The set consisted of a series of self-penned songs and the craft and musicianship of the travelling troubadour was evident to all. His "Devil-May-Care" attitude and his natural charm enhanced the beautifully poetic nature of his lyrics and the fantastic guitar playing. This was a support act that understands the brief and doesn't look to pull focus from the main attraction, but enhances the evening's entertainment and left the audience wanting more.

Then after a short interval, came the moment everyone was waiting for as the stage darkened and The Proclaimers took their rightful position as headliners. The crowd roared and the music began to soar with harmonies from heaven, to steal a phrase often associated with siblings of an earlier age - The Everly Brothers. It was noticeable that the brothers hear did not employ the use of in-ear foldback and yet were still able to provide harmonies that were absolutely on point.

They were provided simple, yet effective backing from a small band consisting of a guitar, bass, keys and drums. The quality of each individual musician is worthy of praise. The work of guitarist Zac Ware was quietly impressive and at times reminiscent of Albert Lee, keyboards by Stevie Christie filled out the sound magnificently and driving the beat incessantly were John Kane on bass and Clive Jenner on drums, their backing was solid, effective and kept the foot-stomping going metronomically throughout the show. Charlie Reid set the powerful tone musically as he fiercely hammered out the rhythm on his guitar and Craig accompanied via a series of percussive instruments including the tambourine and maracas. The sound was fantastic, and it is clear that the pair have lost none of their bite in the ensuing years. Songs that soar and touch the soul, tinged with melancholy moved the crowd throughout.

The crowd were treated to a range of songs from across the career of The Proclaimers which as mentioned, now spans almost 40 years. There were some new songs that will feature on a new album due out in September and, pf course the crowd-pleasing hits so familiar to the assembled audience. The Proclaimers' songbook is a rich and varied one with delicate, beautiful elegies such as Sunshine On Leith to raucous anthems such as I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles).

Their passion and their beliefs shine through not just in the lyrics of their songs but also in their delivery. It is hard to believe that such a politically aware band managed to inspire the wonderfully charming stage musical, Sunshine On Leith. Their belief in the need for Scottish Independence is clear, and they are perhaps among its greatest adverts. As they introduced their first ever single, the crowd roared once more and broke into a raucous singalong to Letter From America - a song which is impossible to sing along to, without affecting a faux-Scottish accent, as evidenced tonight. Skegness seemed Scottish for the duration of the song.

Those songs, so well-known are the staples of any Proclaimers' gig but there are so many more that could be enjoyed and were appreciated by those present. I loved their performances of Sean and Then I Met You, Sky Takes The Soul and Make My Heart Fly. To witness a gig by The Proclaimers is to witness class and quality. A Proclaimers' gig is a joyous experience and those lucky enough to be in Skegness for this show will remember the way the band's music moved them and made them feel. The Reid Twins are going nowhere and continue to perform as if the years have stood still. To be fair they look considerably younger than their actual age. I hope that they will continue to tour and create new music for many years to come. Next year is the fortieth anniversary of the formation of the band. I look forward to seeing The Proclaimers live again when the chance arises.

Andy Evans 07 August 2022

All photography copyright Andy Evans 2022.

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