Gig preview: The Proclaimers, Edinburgh Playhouse

Five hundred miles? And the rest. By the time the year’s out, The Proclaimers will have performed a staggering 70 shows around the UK on their mammoth tour.

In what’s been one of their busiest ever years, the Reid twins have been the length and breadth of the land, stopping off at medium-sized towns as well as the big cities.

But rather than being exhausted by it all, Charlie and Craig say they’ve been “energised” by a tour that comes full circle this week when they return to their hometown for a double-header at the Edinburgh Playhouse on Friday and Saturday.

“Touring is the lifeblood of what we do,” says Charlie, the elder twin by an hour and a half.

“We still make music for the same reason we always did,” agrees Craig, “it’s so we can get up and play to people.” The live performance is the thing we enjoy. If you’re a performer, you need that constant buzz and thrill night after night. And we want to be able to deliver that to every audience.”

“That’s a huge part of who we are as people,” adds Charlie. “I actually have fear for what I would do if, for some reason, we couldn’t do this any more.”

No fear of that. From the moment the late Paula Yates introduced them on Channel 4’s The Tube in 1987 with the words “and now for something really weird…”, The Proclaimers have had a presence – be it on the airwaves, on movie soundtracks, in musical theatre, or on the terraces of their beloved Hibernian FC, where their anthem Sunshine On Leith is played before every home match.

Now considered to be something of a national treasure, the twins are more popular than ever.

“In terms of the number of people we’re playing to,” confirms Craig, “it’s never been higher.”

They did, of course, take a hiatus five years ago. But even then, only for one year.

“Since 2001, we’d spent every year doing gigs somewhere, but we stopped in 2010 to recharge the batteries,” confirms Charlie. “We figured it would be better just to spend the time making a record, making sure we had it the way we wanted it.”

April saw the release of The Proclaimers’ 10th studio album Let’s Hear It For The Dogs, which was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and produced by Dave Eringa (The Who, Manic Street Preachers, Idlewild, and many more).

The odd title is a bit confusing, but Charlie happily explains what it means. “It comes from a line in one of the songs, What School,” he says. “It’s a phrase that’s used in Scotland – not so much now, but it used to be that when people would say ‘what school did you go to?’, what they really meant was ‘are you Catholic of Protestant?’

“When Craig was writing the song he kind of contrasted the not-so-subtle ways that people try to work each other out with the way that dogs do it – by sniffing around each other. So it’s saying the dogs’ way of doing it is somewhat more honest than you think.”

During the brothers’ Playhouse double-header, all the classic Proclaimers songs will get an airing – including Sunshine On Leith, (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles, Letter From America and I’m On My Way.

It might seem like a bit of a greatest hits show, but they rotate the songs each night so they never play the same set twice.

“That’s really important to us,” says Charlie. “We have a lot of loyal fans who will maybe come and see us [several times], so it means they see something slightly different each time.

“It’s good for us as well,” he adds, “as it stops you switching off.”

The Proclaimers, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Friday (4 Dec) and Saturday (5 Dec), 7.30pm, £27.50–£29.50, 0844-871 3014

Words: Gary Flockhart