One of The Proclaimers talks to the Cambridge Independent ahead of their Cambridge gig

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 October 2018

The Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo Macleod

The Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo Macleod

Copyright © Murdo MacLeod, A22G5C

Twins Craig and Charlie Reid, who make up the legendary Scottish duo, will be appearing at the Corn Exchange on Wednesday, October 31.

The Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo MacleodThe Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo Macleod

Known and admired the world over for their timeless signature song, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), Charlie and Craig formed The Proclaimers in 1983.

The instantly identifiable pair have since put out 11 studio albums – starting with 1987’s This Is the Story – had their music used in various films and television series, and have even inspired a stage musical and subsequent film Sunshine on Leith (2013).

Sunshine on Leith, the title of their 1988 song and album, has also become a terrace anthem for Hibernian Football Club, the team supported by Charlie and Craig.

The Cambridge Independent caught up with Charlie, 56, the morning after a sold out gig in Newcastle. He said that people of all ages attend their shows.

The Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo MacleodThe Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo Macleod

“Since we came back again in the early 2000s, we were noticing people coming along with kids and grandkids,” he says. “It’s very gratifying. I think the Sunshine on Leith film really got us across to some people who maybe don’t go to gigs often. That’s definitely helped replenish our audience over the last few years.”

On the Hibs fans singing the song with such passion, Charlie says: “It’s fantastic. That started probably about 2001. It was just after 9/11 and Hibs were playing AEK Athens at home, and obviously the atmosphere was charged with what had just gone on. I think it was quite an emotional night.

“We were sitting in Atlanta, Georgia when this was happening, but my wife and my kids had gone to see the game and it was just spontaneous. I think at half time they played the song and people joined in, and it’s sort of grown from that. It’s become part of the club’s culture now.”

The band’s latest album – released earlier this year – is called Angry Cyclist, something this writer has had previous experience of in Cambridge.

The Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo MacleodThe Proclaimers. Picture: Murdo Macleod

“The song compares the mentality of a person hemmed in on a busy road in a city centre, where the cyclist feels buffered at both sides, by lorries at one side and motorists on the other – or he’s getting squeezed into the side by a bus,” explains Charlie.

“He feels threatened, he feels confrontational because he feels he’s being pushed out of a space that he already occupies.

“And it seems that there’s some sort of similarity there with politics – not just Brexit, but the whole thing with Trump and the breakdown of the conventional party thing in all the western countries, it would appear, to be replaced by people shouting at each other and perhaps living in their own little bubble to some degree, aided by the internet.

“I suppose that really is what the song’s saying – that some people act like an angry cyclist, hemmed in on all sides and unable to see their way through.”

Cambridge audiences will be able to hear tracks from the new album – alongside such classics as Letter from America, I’m on My Way and I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – when the duo play the Corn Exchange on Wednesday.

On the ongoing popularity of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), which seems to have taken on a life of its own, Charlie says: “It’s the usual answer – if we knew what it was, we’d write a few more like it!

“It’s more successful than everything else we’ve done. It’s punchy at the start, with a chugging guitar, and that grabs your ear straight off. The call and response thing you really can’t beat and it’s got fantastic arrangement and production by Pete Wingfield.”

Charlie concludes: “I think we are distinctive and we would always be distinctive, and most of the artists I like best have that quality.

“We always realised that it was going to be inevitable anyway, given how we approached things, how we looked, and the fact that we tried to keep it as real as possible. We didn’t want to sound like other people.”

Tickets: £35.50. 
Box office: cornex.co.uk.

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