Sunshine on George

Justin Brake
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The Proclaimers enjoying wave of new popularity

They penned one of the biggest hits of the '90s, sold millions of records worldwide, have been featured in films like "Shrek" and "Benny and Joon," and even made a recent cameo on the hit television show "Family Guy." Last year, a musical featuring songs from their hit album "Sunshine on Leith" sold out week-long stints in their native Scotland, they released their hits album for the second time, and then topped the music charts with a song they put out two decades ago.

There's not a lot The Proclaimers haven't done - except play a gig in Newfoundland.

That will change Saturday night when the Reid brothers, identical twins in fact, and their band will invade George Street in support of their seventh studio album "Life With You."

Brothers Craig (left) and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers, are enjoying a resurgence in their two-decade-long career. Submitted photo

They penned one of the biggest hits of the '90s, sold millions of records worldwide, have been featured in films like "Shrek" and "Benny and Joon," and even made a recent cameo on the hit television show "Family Guy." Last year, a musical featuring songs from their hit album "Sunshine on Leith" sold out week-long stints in their native Scotland, they released their hits album for the second time, and then topped the music charts with a song they put out two decades ago.

There's not a lot The Proclaimers haven't done - except play a gig in Newfoundland.

That will change Saturday night when the Reid brothers, identical twins in fact, and their band will invade George Street in support of their seventh studio album "Life With You."

"We did Halifax two years ago and we really enjoyed it so we're looking forward to going out to Newfound-land this time," says Craig Reid from a hotel room in Toronto, just days before the band kicked off its Canadian tour, again in Halifax.

Home to one of The Proclaimers' biggest fan bases, Canada has historically been kind to the band.

"I think Canada, outside of Europe, was the first place that picked up on The Proclaimers from the very first album," says Reid. "We're grateful that we can still come back 19 years after we first came over."

The brothers' career has been full of ups and downs since "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" first dominated the airwaves in the early '90s. An unintended extended hiatus from the music industry pushed them off the radar, and a string of independent album releases following their return did little to uphold the reputation they constructed in the first decade of their career.

"We always knew we would come back and that we would make more records and do more tours," Reid explains of the band's absence between 1995 and 2001. "I think we got to the state where ... we weren't coming up with enough good stuff that we were happy with."

Since their return in 2001, however, The Proclaimers have released four albums and toured relentlessly. The result has been a new-found popularity in Europe, not for catchy radio tunes, but for the band's live performances.

"It was our growing audience who, I think, went out and bought (the new album) and finally we got some reasonable radio play. It wasn't anything excessive but we got a fair amount of play, so people got to hear the record and they bought it. We were confident that if it got play, it would sell. And it did."

"Life With You," released in Europe last September and in North America just last week by Universal, breaks the duo's run of indie releases and is experiencing the greatest success since "Sunshine on Leith," says Reid.

With the recent influx of attentionxsurroundingxthe band, including the re-release of their 2002 "Best Of" record, the "Sunshine on Leith" musical, various television appearances and gigs at some of Europe's biggest musicxfestvals, the timing for a solidxrecord couldn't be more crucial.

"I think there was probably a bit of extra pressure, but I think because we've been doing this thing for the last few years - writing an album and then recording it and touring," explains Reid, "we were happy that (our) profile was much higher than it was five or six years ago. You accept that there will be a bit of added pressure because more people are going to be interested in what you're doing. I think that probably helped us. I don't think it was like 'This has got to be a platinum album' or anything like that. We were confident that the last few records we've done have been very good and the quality of songs on this one was every bit as good."

The result is a lyrically robust collection of songs with vocal arrangements superior to any they've previously recorded, compliments of producer Steve Evans, who the band collaborated with for the first time on the new album.

While remaining true to their Scottish roots, the pair also reveal their country influences on the record and boast a variety of instruments, like horns and an organ, in addition to their staple guitar and piano sounds.

Club One might be George Street's biggest music venue, but it's a much smaller room than The Proclaimers are used to playing. This doesn't deter them a bit-in fact, they look forward to it, says Reid.

"We enjoy playing the smaller places. It's not a put-off for us. It's not a step down or anything like that. I know for myself, watching acts, sometimes you can enjoy someone better in a 500-capacity club than you can in a theatre."

Spoken like a true music veteran whose experiences of ups and downs have shaped his outlook on music and life.

"All we wanted to do was to write our songs and play our music and make a living doing it. We've been doing that for 21 years, so we're happy. We've had far more success in far more countries than we ever thought we could."

Also appearing

Joining the Scottish boys on their Canadian tour is Jeremy Fisher, twice nominated for the most recent Juno Awards, for new artist of the year and adult alternative album of the year, on the strength of his album "Goodbye Blue Monday."

Organizations: Family Guy

Geographic location: Europe, George Street, Halifax Canada Scotland Newfoundland Toronto North America

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