There was a cèilidh (pronounced Caylee) at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre in Auckland last night and the Scots came out from New Zealand’s lowlands and highlands to hear their favourite sons, The Proclaimers, remind them of times gone by and dear old Scotland.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get there in time to hear Kiwi sensation Mel Parsons but she would have been a great precursor to warm up the crowd and set the scene for the Scottish duo.
Auckland was their second-to-last gig on the road so they may not have walked 500 hundred miles but they did hit the stage running none-the-less, with Angry Cyclist off the same album, There’s a Touch off Persevere, and Over and Done With off their debut album This Is The Story.
What was striking right away was their signature sound and distinctive accent. There’s no hiding where these boys come from and, supported aptly by a four-piece backing band including keyboards, their sound rolled over like sea fog... engulfing the pretty and well packed ASB Theatre.
A few words of welcome and they were off again, this time with Letters From America, which really got the crowd singing along in full voice, taking me a little by surprise.
At the start, there were only a few hearty souls (well one actually) who was brave enough to leap up and swing his kilt a little, which got me thinking, why the ASB Theatre in Aotea Centre? This band is one that you want to get up and dance to from the get-go, passing a few drams around to warm the stomach as the music warms the heart. Sitting down to these guys almost seems a crime and you could tell many of the punters had already had a single malt or two and were itching to get up and have a fling.
Should Have Been Loved followed, which got a few more lads and lassies up, then, like any good set, things slowed down a little during the middle session. There was plenty of swaying along the way with many, who may have seen them when the twin brothers were first here back in 1989, soaking up the sounds and delighted to find them no worse for wear 30 years on.
The lads were simply brilliant. Seeming to enjoy every lyric and chord along the way, well-supported by the band and in particular the drummer, who was slapping the skins a bit like Animal off The Muppet Show.
The Proclaimers (who originated from that well-known Scottish town Auchtermuchty) spotlighted a number of their albums during the show but the main sprinklings were from Sunshine on Leith, This Is The Story, Angry Cyclist and Let’s Hear It For The Dogs their last studio album in 2015.
Sunshine On Leith all of a sudden erupted the crowd into a huge singalong and probably brought many memories back given it was their biggest selling album. Shaking off the shackles Life With You kept the crowd fired up and by the time the opening chords of I’m On My Way opened up it felt like the end of the Highland Games back in the bar.
Not the youngest of audiences I have seen lately, but the place went off and there wasn’t a sad or bored face in the house as Then I Met You opened the door to the song everyone had come to hear.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Hundred Miles) back in 1988 was number 1 only in New Zealand and Australia and I don’t think you could have gone to a party without hearing this song. It was as fresh as it was then and the roof of the ASB Theatre was lifted off, especially as the chorus kicked in with their staccato lyrics and dela delada da da da and one I particularly liked given my inability to remember lyrics very well.
Then they were off. The crowd still on their feet, roared for more and with a little adieu, they were back finishing off with Cap In Hand, Make My Heart Fly and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues drawing the curtain on the night.
I was left feeling it was a celebration and one you could picture in an old Scottish Castle. It had many of the audience holding and hugging each other as the band left the stage, etching the night into memory banks so they could later reminisce, over a whiskey or two, on what a night it had been.