THE PROCLAIMERS moseyed into Auckland after a pretty extensive tiki tour of NZ, with gigs in Oamaru, Blenheim and Hastings included on their schedule.
Selling out for their first scheduled date tonight (Saturday), an earlier gig at the Powerstation only managed to yield a half-filled crowd with the balcony closed and plenty of room for punters downstairs. Maybe some of Tamaki Makaurau’s Scottish contingent had been diverted down the road to see Danny Bhoy?
Nevertheless, the crowd were enthusiastic and happy to be there. They clearly weren’t there to see support act The Bads, talking loudly throughout the set, which was a shame, as they were anything but bad. Dianne Swann and Brett Adams did their best over a noisy and pretty unreceptive audience, both displaying a fantastic range of vocals in diverse country and rock influenced songs, reminiscent of Woody Guthrie, Art Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac. They were fabulous and hopefully had a better reception on the previous dates, given that they were, according to Dianne, “thrilled to be with The Proclaimers”. The only thing remotely bad about any of it was the lacklustre crowd response.
The Proclaimers themselves ripped their way through an impressive and fast-paced set. They performed as 6-piece – singer, two guitarists, bass player, keyboards and a chap called Clive Jenner on drums, who featured in a fabulous extended solo at the conclusion of the show. One guitarist’s resemblance to the lead singer was truly remarkable – they could have easily passed for identical twins.
Craig and Charlie Reid led their merry band through hits and well-loved tracks spanning 11 albums, including last year’s most recent offering Dentures Out. Their set kicked off with the title track of that album, featuring (like many of their songs) a jaunty melody and entertaining lyrics. The band segued into Over and Done With via a tad of the intro to Iggy Pop’s The Passenger before throwing in a melodic harmonica intro for There’s A Touch. It was all pretty slick and accomplished, with very little room to pause before the next offering started up. There were definitely highs and lows, light and shade and changes of both tempo and mood through a carefully constructed set, with slower songs such as Draw Another Line and the reflective Shadows Fall balancing out up-tempo numbers Then I Met You and Life With You.
The melodic Let’s Get Married got the crowd clapping and singing along. The Proclaimers are hard to classify – clearly there are influences from rock, country and folk, but also punk, as displayed in the cutting acerbic lyrics disguised by catchy tunes. Make no mistake, there are definitely pointed and political statements here, as displayed in the cynicism of In Recognition and Classy. But there’s a shed-load of romance, too – the lament for lost love What Makes You Cry, the plea “Please don’t go rushing by/ Stay and Make My Heart Fly” and, of course, the melancholy masterpiece of Sunshine on Leith – the stand out crowd favourite of the night.
It’s a song dripping with love and gratitude: “My heart was broken/ You saw it, you claimed it/ You touched it, you saved it” which has clearly come to mean a lot to a lot of people since its 1988 release as the title track of The Proclaimers’ biggest album. The set included other tracks from Sunshine on Leith – Cap in Hand and Sean, introduced with the comment that they’d played it on their first trip to New Zealand in 1989. There wasn’t an awful lot of song intro, interaction or commentary through the night, although the quirky Role Model, with its rockabilly vibe, was dedicated to “all the high achieving women in the audience” – presumably a small number, as the crowd was definitely skewed toward more mature men, similar in age perhaps to the 61 year old duo. The audience were kept waiting until the eleventh number for a full-on opportunity to show their voice with valiant singing to Letter From America, with an enthusiastic attempt to keep up with the familiar and intentional litany of Scottish place names. I’m On My Way was saved almost until the end, before the crowd were thanked and the tambourine came out for I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), which – unsurprisingly – had a massive, enthusiastic response. The night finished with upbeat Kilmarnock, lots of clapping, a Scottish flag flying and some people dancing reels – one benefit of having room in the far less crowded than usual venue.
After a huge, pounding, extended instrumental finish, with lights, Doors-inspired guitars and keyboards, drums and pretty much the whole shebang, the audience departed, satisfied and smiling. They definitely got their money’s worth and like The Proclaimers themselves, will no doubt be back again.
Go well tonight, lads… and enjoy your tour end trip to the Tron.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski:
A few further tickets have been released for tonight’s sold out gig – available via Ticketmaster. Tickets for Hamilton on Sunday are available from Ticketek.
THE PROCLAIMERS SETLIST:
- Dentures Out
- Over and Done With
- There’s A Touch
- Draw Another Line
- Let’s Get Married
- What Makes You Cry
- Shadows Fall
- Role Model
- In Recognition
- The World That Was
- Cap In Hand
- Letter From America
- Life With You
- Sky Takes The Soul
- Spinning Around
- Sunshine On Leith
- Then I Met You
- I’m On My Way
- I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
- Make My Heart Fly