Music review: The Proclaimers, Leith Links, Edinburgh

The music of Craig and Charlie Reid remains a timeless evocation of the national spirit, writes David Pollock, and even in the rain, a mass singalong to Sunshine On Leith was still a spine-tingling moment

The Proclaimers, Leith Links, Edinburgh *****

Whoever thought to bring the Reid brothers Charlie and Craig’s under-canvas summer tour as close to the epicentre of their natural fanbase as possible deserves a medal. Sunshine On Leith – a stirring live favourite at the Proclaimers’ Scottish dates – has never felt so good as when it’s sung in the heart of Leith itself.

Much of this was down to the fans’ deafening singalong, as Erica Nockalls’ guest violin playing cradled the song’s tender melody. However audiences elsewhere in the world may view the Proclaimers – as a quirky retro pop outfit, perhaps, or a taste of the old country – in Scotland their music remains timeless and undying, as though they have somehow tapped into the country’s spirit, like two Caledonian Springsteens in prescription glasses.

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A fierce romanticism bubbled through their set here, inspiring giddy cheers and more singing in support as the six-piece band struck up one of their many fan favourites: Let’s Get Married; Then I Met You, with its peaking, euphoric key change on the chorus; the customary euphoria of I’m On My Way, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues.

Their political edge is undimmed. In Recognition railed against the Honours system, Cap in Hand remains one of the most eloquent artistic defences of Scottish independence, and Scotland’s Story reflects on the nation’s history as both a source of and welcoming home for immigrants.

Warm but taciturn as ever, the Reids said little, offering Misty Blue up as a dedication and thanking their support acts at this mini-festival, Admiral Fallow and Hamish Hawk. At Sunday night’s second of two shows, the weather breaking into torrential rain coincided almost exactly with Sunshine On Leith, but as the song suggests, you have to take the downpours with the sunshine. In this context, the song remained one of the great, spine-tingling live moments.

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