April 28, 2013

Concert #674 - The Proclaimers at McCabe's Guitar Shop (April 27, 2013)

Last night's concert at McCabe's came nineteen years after I first saw them in concert at the Troubadour, in Los Angeles. I went to that show with my older son, Danny, who was as big a Proclaimers fan as I was. Had someone told me then that roughly two decades later I would attend a Proclaimers concert accompanied by my son's son, a.k.a. my grandson, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. But it happened.

My grandson Austin at McCabe's
Since my first live encounter with the Proclaimers in 1994, I caught them a couple of more times, but not since 2002. Needless to say, I could not have passed up the chance to see them again in the intimate backroom of my favorite venue, so I grabbed sixteen tickets as soon as they went on sale, in December 2012. As expected, there were plenty of takers among my friends, so I did not get stuck with any unwanted tickets.

In preparation for the concert, I started listening to "Like Comedy", the most current release of the Proclaimers, and so I discovered one of the best albums of the last few years. How good is the album? Well, it's mind-numbingly good. No filler tracks at all. Each and every song is a gem. Gorgeous melodies, fantastic vocals, clever lyrics, great production, and I could go on and on with nothing but superlatives. If you don't have the album, grab it now (trust me, I'm not a salesman on commission).

Last night's concert may have been the last stop of their all-acoustic American tour, yet the boys from Leith showed no signs of fatigue whatsoever. Performing with total abandon and unleashing some epic vocals, Craig and Charlie put on a fantastic show, the kind that makes you feel privileged for having had the good fortune of attending.

The Proclaimers at McCabe's
The adoring fans were treated to a decently long set, nineteen songs in all, but surprisingly, eleven of them were culled from the first two albums, released in 1987 and 1988. This left room for only three numbers from "Like Comedy", namely "Spinning Around In The Air", "Women And Wine" and "There's". I would have loved to hear more from the new album, but I had no problem accepting the band's desire to play the older songs.

The set list (precisely adhered to)
The songs of the Proclaimers are anything but easy to sing. Without looking at each other and with the greatest of ease, Craig and Charlie interweaved their huge voices and disimilar singing styles with spectacular results, with Craig typically leading the way and Charlie backing him up in his inimitable style. I was amazed by the power and durability of their voices, as they finished the show with the same intensity with which it started. They played to only one-hundred-and-fifty lucky ticket holders, but they gave it all.

There was some storytelling, which of course came complete with their delightful Scottish accent and I was very pleased to hear Craig describe the host venue as "an amazing place".

The Proclaimers singing their hearts out at McCabe's
Although I liked each and every song they sang, I would mention "Throw The R Away", "Spinning Around In The Air" and "500 Miles" as the highlights of the show. "Role Model" and "Let's Get Married" were also outstanding.

The crowd was just a tad more exuberant than your regular McCabe's crowd and when Craig and Charlie launched into the opening chords of "500 Miles", the whole place was rocking real hard. It felt great being there.

According to the web site of the Proclaimers, the band's opening act for the entire US tour was supposed to be JP Jones, the acclaimed singer-songwriter and recent Chrissie Hynde collaborator. For unknown reasons, JP did not appear. Instead, I was exposed for the first time to the music of David Poe, someone totally new to me. Overall, he made a good impression on me, but not all of his songs were easy to take in at the first hearing. But some were. Two songs in particular stood out to these ears: "Devil" and especially "Big Bloody Heart", performed together with the attractive Amy Raasch. David appears to be an artist who is worth exploring and I will start with his T-Bone-Burnett-produced first album.

David Poe & Amy Raasch at McCabe's
Last night's show was definitely one of the best ones I've ever seen at McCabe's, or anywhere else, for that matter. Austin, my grandson, loved it too. He is now listening to a "Best Of The Proclaimers" mini-compilation that I prepared especially for him, and you guessed it just right, "Women And Wine" was left out. Not inadvertently.

The Proclaimers mingling with fans after the show
A ticketless fan with a sense of humor (she did find a ticket)

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