Monday, May 19, 2008

The Proclaimers at the El Rey

On Friday night, the wife and I went to see my favoritest band in the history of ever, The Proclaimers. They're in the middle of a worldwide tour for their new album, "Life With You." Now, I'm not really the rock-concert going type -- the number of surgeries I've had is greater than the number of concerts I've been to -- but when I found out those twins from Scotland were playing the El Rey, attendance was mandatory.

For those of you who don't know, the Proclaimers are a Scottish band. Their biggest hit in the US was 1988's "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," but they're huge in the UK and just released their seventh album (not counting compilations). The setup for the band sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit -- identical twin Scotsmen who look like Buddy Holly and sing in a brogue so think you can't understand what they're saying half the time.

But that's one of the things that makes the band great. They sing in their dialect; they're not going to mask it. They even did a song about it, "Throw the 'R' Away." And if you listen to their songs, you'll know why -- a good portion of them are about Scottish pride and independence. Add in the other common themes in their music -- love and loss; travel; getting married, fighting while married, and loving being married; and drinking -- and rockabilly and country influences, and you've got a nutshell idea of what the Proclaimers are about.

That's Charlie Reid on the left (guitar, vocals) and Craig Reid on the right (vocals). I think. No, wait. That's Craig on the ... or is it ... ? Shit.

The concert itself was spectacular. We were right up against the stage, maybe three bodies back. It's rare that a band sounds as good live as on their CDs. The Proclaimers, I dare say it, rocked the El Rey. They did many of the cuts from their new album and all of their classics. My favorite song, "There's a Touch," was third on their playlist. They did all their biggest hits, with a full band: "Letter from America," "I'm On My Way," and the obligatory "I'm Gonna Be." For an encore, they did a three-song set that they capped with their cover of "King of the Road." And the crowd -- not huge, but fully stoked -- was composed of hardcore fans. They knew every song, and sang along. And I'd never met another American Proclaimers fan. All in all, a fantastic evening, and a fabulous performance. It's Monday, and my ears have finally stopped ringing.