03 August 2019 (gig)
03 August 2019
The Proclaimers mix feel-good fun with social commentary at the Wickham Festival.
It’s remarkable to think that despite having been in the music game since the 1980s and not charting a major hit since 2007, Charlie and Craig Reid are nevertheless known the country and perhaps even the world over.
If you’re not sure as to the veracity of that statement, just try and find three people who haven’t heard ‘500 Miles‘. Don’t worry the rest of us will wait.
Let’s be honest you couldn’t find anyone could you? If by some minor miracle you did, then you surely didn’t find them at the Wickham Festival.
Hyped up punters packed the festival’s second stage. The people were ready to, sing. dance, and party, and the boys from Scotland didn’t disappoint.
During the course of a little over an hour the tempo very rarely slows, as the proclaimers keep it upbeat and lively.
Well-known must plays like, ‘Letter from America’ and ‘I’m On My Way’ are lightly sprinkled in with the duo’s newer work. If you’re only a casual listener to The Proclaimers’ discography then you could be forgiven for missing the political, or at least socially conscious message that powers a significant chunk of their recent records.
Lyrically, concert opener ‘Angry Cyclist’ proves to be a standout. The act sings:
“watch bigotry advance give ignorance a chance with fascists, we will dance by, and by old prejudice hasn't gone new energy, drives it on”.
Another newbe to receive an airing is the caustic ‘A Way With Words’ The pair fire off:
“Well a way with words Is something to which I would aspire Though a way with words Is usually the first sign of a liar”.
The tracks succeed because their creators wear their opinions on the sleeve. The words are, straightforward, accessible and relatable.
Whatever walk of life you come from at some point you’ve probably questioned the lack of honesty and transparency within the political system or thought that maybe just maybe the world could be a tad less fear filled and vitriolic. Throw in The Proclaimers’ good humour and ability to craft a catchy hook and you have the makings of a good song, not to mention a show-stopping set.
The hosts while being perfectly affable, spend very little time chatting with their audience, instead opting to keep the music coming thick and fast. Whether it’s the sad humour of ‘What Makes You Cry’, the up-tempo truth of ‘Born Innocent’ or just the feel-good nature of ‘Life with You’, the crowd seems content despite the minimal chitchat.
The proceedings slow down briefly as the audience is indulged in the sweet sound of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ before firing up again for the final stretch.
The curfew now fast approaching everyone is sent packing after a quick sing-along to the all-conquering ‘I'm Gonna Be’. One only hopes fans didn’t have to walk the 500 miles to reunite with their car afterwards.
The Proclaimers may have sent everyone off with a smile, but they weren’t the only artists to ensure satisfaction.
If awards were given out for sheer energy and gusto Skinny Lister would comfortably take home the night’s first prize. With beers in hand and flagon at the ready the band was up for a party.
Serving as the penultimate act, they hardly slow down for a second. Co-vocalist Lorna Thomas boisterously dances to every rowdy tune, and even pops into the crowd to dance the night away.
Unfortunately, for the new initiates to Skinny Lister’s body of work this was not the time to achieve a deeper understanding of the nuances of the act in front of them. Pounding drums and electric guitar lender rock vibe to the occasion but overshadow the lyrics.
With a flagon of drink being passed from the stage to the crowd, fans are in good voice as they roar along with the band.
Those looking for somewhat, more traditional folk fair were placated earlier on in the day as Gnoss took to the stage. The band largely dispensed with singing, in favour of a much more melody focused set. The violin and the mandolin paired well to bring something fresh to the gathering.