The Proclaimers less than entertaining

Justin Brake
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Crowd, band both conservative throughout performance

Saturday night's Proclaimers show at Club One would be the equivalent to seeing the Tragically Hip in a small club outside of Canada.

The fact the band, from Scotland, was out of its element, made the show that much more extraordinary for those who realize that the Proclaimers - led by identical twins Craig and Charlie Reid - are much more than a one-hit wonder.

Scottish twin brothers, Craig and Charlie Reid, also known as The Proclaimers, performed in St. John's Saturday night at Club One. Photo by Justin Brake/Special to The Telegram

Saturday night's Proclaimers show at Club One would be the equivalent to seeing the Tragically Hip in a small club outside of Canada.

The fact the band, from Scotland, was out of its element, made the show that much more extraordinary for those who realize that the Proclaimers - led by identical twins Craig and Charlie Reid - are much more than a one-hit wonder.

Unfortunately, for the band and its apparent small base of dedicated fans in St. John's, the crowd was a relatively conservative one.

The band opened with "New Religion," an upbeat number from their new album "Life With You" which was released in Canada just last week. "In Recognition," another new song, and the title track from their 2005 effort, "Restless Soul" followed, but failed to entice the crowd into any sort of typical Saturday night behaviour.

In fact, there was no crowd banter from the band and reciprocally little enthusiasm from the audience until "I'm On My Way," which the band introduced as the song from the Shrek soundtrack.

Finally, there was some movement on the dance floor. It was short-lived though and it became apparent the majority of people in the crowd had paid $30 to hear two songs, the other being "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," the Proclaimers breakthrough hit from the early 90s, which came at the end of the show.

The Reid Brothers' lack of interaction, coupled with the crowd's absent enthusiasm, made the show seem like more of a business transaction than a rock 'n' roll show.

Behind all of this though, often difficult to recognize, was arguably one of the best musical performances of 2008.

Drawing primarily from 1988's "Sunshine on Leith" and "Life With You" with two or three highlights from each of the other five records, the band's strengths clearly laid in the quality of musicianship, from all members - the Reid brothers, along with Stevie Christie, Zac Ware, Gary John Kane and Clive Jenner - and also in the strong stage presence.

About an hour into the set they delivered a one-two punch with astonishing renditions of "Born Innocent" and their hometown theme "Sunshine on Leith", both of which immobilized the crowd and garnered a respectable response. It was after this that the respect level for the band intensified, and just in time to close the set with "I'm Gonna Be," which made for a few loud moments leading to the encore.

"King of The Road" earned the band a sing-along and "Life With You" saw those closest to the stage in dancing frenzy.

The enthusiasm was too little, too late though. The highlight laid not in one or two hit songs, but in the invisibility of the body of the set, perhaps only because in Canada we still think of The Proclaimers as "those guys who sang 500 miles."

"Life With You" is earning the band the most critical acclaim they've seen since the early 90s, so its likely if they ever return to Newfoundland people will know more of their music, or at least remember what they experienced that one night at Club One.

Organizations: Tragically Hip, Reid Brothers

Geographic location: Canada, Scotland, St. John's Newfoundland

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