The Proclaimers in Dubai

We speak to Charlie Reid of hitmaking Scottish brother act ahead of IV gig

So, you’re back in Dubai.
We first played Dubai in 2002 and we’ve been back a few times. Last time, we played at The Irish Village as well, but we’ve got a few new songs since then. The crowds are pretty good, a little bit more laid back than elsewhere. We’re always on the road – I think we’re the hardest-working band in the world. One of them, anyway.

You seemed to disappear after the mid-’90s, what happened?
A lot of it had to do with having kids. We took our eyes of the ball a little bit, there wasn’t the same impetus to go out touring. There were a lot of kids being born and for a while, we took it a little easier. I’m glad, because if we hadn’t, we would have missed them growing up, but we did lose some of the momentum.

Have the critics welcomed you back?
It comes and goes. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. We’ve done it despite the critics, because we do it on the road. We’ve built it up on people seeing us and coming back. We’ve made some good albums since 2001 and that’s helped.

It must get a bit old wheeling out the hits.
It doesn’t really. If you had 10 or 12 songs you had to play every night, it could be very boring, but we really only had a couple of hits. There are maybe six or seven songs we have to play every night, but within (that set list) we can play what we want. We play songs from each album because we’ve got so much material, which freshens us up.

You must have heard a few dodgy covers of ‘I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ in your time.
There’s been quite a few dodgy covers. A lot of acts would kill for a song like that. That song has been really helpful and allows us to play places we wouldn’t get to. It’s been used so many times in films and adverts, and that income has kept us on the road. The money keeps coming in and if you have loss-making gigs, you can cover everyone with that (money).

So, how did it happen? Was it one you spent ages crafting, or just knocked out?
We were about to play a gig in Aberdeen. We were just sitting in the chair and Craig came up with it in about half an hour. We changed a couple of chords later, but it just came out. When we went to record, it was obviously the first single from the album, but we never expected this. On its original release it only got to number 11 in the UK. It was never a huge hit, but it’s grown into a bigger record than we ever realised.

It’s catchier than a common cold – what’s the secret?
It’s the marching beat, and the call and response vocals. It goes down well with social functions and student discos. A lot of people say things to us like ‘it was always the last song at the club night I went to every week in Turkey’. It’s become far bigger than the band.

Student discos? Must make you feel old.
It does a little bit, but we are a little bit old. I’ve turned 50 and rock n’ roll is a young man’s game. You’re very lucky if you can still do this at 50. I think we’ve got a few more years left in us. A lot of bands have to retire because the public don’t come out anyone. That would be a sad day – that’s time to quit.
The Proclaimers play at The Irish Village, at 9pm on Friday September 28. Tickets cost Dhs40 on the door.

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