Saturday, 27 July 2013

Review of The Proclaimers at the Holt Festival in Norfolk, July 26, 2013.

"Good evening, Holt!" And there they were. The Proclaimers, one of the best song-writing duos Britain has produced, on one of the most picturesque, intimate, tree-surrounded stages in the land.

Under warm summer skies at the beautiful Theatre In The Woods at Gresham's School, they exploded like startled wood pigeons from the trees with their vivacious, life-affirming songs, Craig's right knee jerking away, Charlie's acoustic guitar soaring into the leaf canopy, and those wonderful Celtic harmonies making us all feel glad to be together in Norfolk with our Yetman's beer and our hog roasts and our Back To The Garden barbecued burgers.

Charlie and Craig have been celebrating love, joy, heartbreak, family and sunshine on Leith for more than a quarter of a century. The twins are 51 now, looking the same as ever in their short sleeves trademark specs, the hair not quite as red as it was, and they've never sounded better. Tonight theyd brought the full band with them, a tight-knit Hibs squad of drums, bass, keyboards and electric/slide guitar musicians.

"This first came out in 1987," said Craig three songs in, and the first chords of Letter From America prompted a dash from the seats to the mini-mosh pit. Take a look at the rail track, and there was a Norwich City flag held proudly aloft by a veteran fan who hadn't kept the weight off nearly as well as the Reid brothers.

Next up, I'm On My Way, that soulful journey from misery to happiness today, aha, aha, and we were on our feet, clapping and singing and joining them on that odyssey.

Then it was Let's Get Married, an anthem about getting old and staying together even better than When I'm 64. And then the ultimate Scottish folk-ballad, my heart was broken, sorrow, sorrow, but while I'm worth my room on the earth, Sunshine On Leith with its classic slide steel-guitar reprise is one of the finest songs about redemption you'll hear played under the stars in Norfolk or anywhere else on God's green earth.

In a flash, the defining Proclaimers moment was on us. I'm Gonna Be, that genius song about a thousand-mile love pilgrimage, is always one of the great festival moments. I saw them at T In The Park near Edinburgh a dozen years ago, sunburnt as lobsters, delighting a sell-out crowd with it. Now, thanks to Hollywood, not Holyrood, 500 Miles is thrilling a whole new generation of fans wherever it's played.

They rounded off a tremendous show with King Of The Road, the Roger Miller country classic they've claimed as their own Scottish-brogued theme song. No pool, no pets, but lots of mobile phones held aloft and a fitting way to round off the highlight of a very modern Norfolk festival.


  1. Great stuff - sounds as life-affirming as a holiday in Norfolk ought to be! (couple of typos in there mind!)