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The Proclaimers pack in the passion

By Margaret Chrystall

YOU can’t help thinking as another triumphant year of side-stepping the predictable closes for THE PROCLAIMERS that the guys once considered slightly eccentric speccy-geeks are having the last laugh. Again.

Or is that again?

The filming is now underway in Edinburgh and Glasgow of hit show Sunshine On Leith, named after the twins’ beloved Hibees anthem and featuring Proclaimers’ songs.

And the feature film is an intriguing prospect with the show’s original writer Stephen Greenhorn in scriptwriter role, second-time director Dexter "Wild Bill" Fletcher and stars Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks.

Charlie and Craig have wished it well.

But the Reid twins have actually appeared on TV this autumn as themselves on a top TV soap, as Charlie told us at Eden Court’s triumphant sell-out gig on Monday.

"About three months ago, we spent a day playing the next song on Emmerdale to extras paid to jump up and down, seeing as most of you have paid to be here ..."

Yes, the crowd got the message and did a bit of jigging and clapping to I’m On My Way.

At the start of their value-for-money 90-minute set Charlie had pointed out it had been a while since they had played Inverness.

So maybe it should have been no surprise that the pent-up passions led to a crowd in fine voice for the classic songs that have made The Proclaimers an essential festival act and a guaranteed singalong.

But the truth is, as well as the big hitters – such as 500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be) which ended the main set and the more political songs like Cap In Hand and the great song that started it all for them Letter From America – the new songs prove the duo’s songwriting just keeps on moving forward and springing surprises.

Yes, they can do songs the Scots panel deemed worthy to vote onto Scotland’s Greatest Albums not once, but twice (500 Miles and Sunshine On Leith).

But many of the five songs from this year’s album Like Comedy that featured in Monday’s set show an ever-more knowing, whimsical but still blokeishly romantic touch.

"If I could sing I would sing you a song/ In Sam Cooke’s voice" goes the single, Spinning Around In The Air which came with its own Matt "Little Britain" Lucas video starring the twins as old wifies earlier this year.

And in the song that came straight after it in the show, The Thought Of You, there was a lovely guitar solo from Zac Ware and some heartfelt lyrics as well as a retro 60s feel that kept popping out of both old and new songs.

At times through the night, you could hear the Everly Brothers influence in their cover of Steve Earle’s My Old Friend The Blues in the second encore number, the Buddy Holly chimes and simplicity of the new album’s Simple Things and an almost doo-wop feel for What Makes You Cry.

And with the big melodies, lung-filling singing style, passion and straightforward, punchy lyrics, there’s maybe a natural retro default to The Proclaimers music.

Nine albums of music to choose from must give a few headaches, but the set ranged back and forth among many with plenty of dedications to fans along the way.

Not one duff song among them, though it’s hard for them all to have the impact of the chart anthems.

And with 25 years on the clock – and still apparently happy to keep pushing forward and stretching themselves in songwriting terms – the twins have already gone where many musicians never get to go.

Making grown men cry with Sunshine On Leith – not just the football connection or Zac Ware’s ravishing pedal steel solo because the night’s next song I Met You also made you choke up with its simple but subtle message of hope.

The power of The Proclaimers is still worth shouting about.

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