Gig Review: The Proclaimers at Royal Concert Hall

Words: Nick Parkhouse
Photos: Alicia Tamlyn
Friday 28 October 2022
reading time: min, words

Nick Parkhouse didn't have to walk 500 miles (or 500 more) to see The Proclaimers live - they came to Nottingham, to perform at the Royal Concert Hall. Here are his thoughts...


When you ask anyone on the street to name a Scottish pop act, you won’t have to go far before someone will respond with The Proclaimers. The twins have been part of British pop culture for nigh on forty years, helped by the success of one of those rare and mammoth hits that everyone knows.

Twins Craig and Charlie Reid first stormed into the UK's top three in the late 1980s, as Letter From America introduced millions to the exotic locations of Skye, Bathgate and Methil. Now, following the release of their twelfth studio album, Dentures Out, the brothers returned to Nottingham for the first time in four years.

Opting to open with the title track to their new album was timely genius. On the day that new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was forming a new government by offering jobs to the same revolving cabal of candidates, a wry state-of-the-nation pop song lamenting “the ranks of non-achievers/wear the look of true believers” could scarcely have been more appropriate for the times.


While it might be easy to dismiss The Proclaimers as a novelty act, the truth is that the brothers are terrific songwriters. Their back catalogue is filled with catchy and memorable three-minute pop songs – the likes of Sky Takes The Soul, Spinning Around In The Air, and Over And Done With – all sounding terrific here alongside their excellent newer material.

Where I think the pair really showcase their incredible song writing gifts is on their more reflective work. While the achingly beautiful Sunshine On Leith has become something of a classic, Feast Your Eyes is a terrific ballad from their latest album, while the paean to their hometown, Streets of Edinburgh, was a personal highlight of the evening. Of course, the biggest ovations were reserved for their well-known hits, and Letter From America, Let's Get Married and I’m On My Way were all raucously received by a packed Concert Hall.


For a new generation of fans introduced to the band's biggest hit through its 2007 re-release, the main show ended on a high. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) is one of those rarest of pop records that has genuinely universal appeal and I'd be surprised if there has been a better-loved number one hit this millennium. It was quite the moment to see thousands of people of all ages singing and dancing along to what has become an absolute once-in-a-generation classic.

The Reid's brotherly harmonies are terrific, and this was an unpretentious performance which let the quality of the songs do the talking. Returning to conclude with the superb Make My Heart Fly and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues, a thrilled Concert Hall crowd were left to reflect on a tremendous show from a hugely underrated band.

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