Glastonbury 2019: The Proclaimers on the heat... and funeral songs

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Proclaimers: 'Older songs have more impact'

The Proclaimers opened up Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage on Saturday, with a mass singalong to hits like (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles and Letter From America.

The set came 32 years after brothers Charlie and Craig Reid last played the stage, shortly after releasing their first album, and they had a few more hits up their sleeve this time round.

Song like Let's Get Married and Sunshine on Leith have become staples at weddings and funerals respectively; and they got a new generation of fans when I'm On My Way featured in the first Shrek film.

The band sat down with the BBC to share their Glastonbury memories, and their dream line-up for next year's 50th anniversary.

How hot is it out on that stage today?

Charlie: When we went on, the sun was just about overhead. We got a slight breeze about 20 minutes in, which helped a little. But it is blimmin' hot out there.

You were the first act on the Pyramid Stage after Stormzy. How does that feel?

Charlie: What an honour. A cultural game-changer, followed by The Proclaimers on Saturday morning! We actually played Glastonbury in 1987 on the Pyramid Stage, so to come back all these years later, is absolutely fantastic.

What was the festival like back then?

Craig: We'd never experienced anything other than playing in clubs - so that was the biggest stage we'd played. But we were 25 then, and you know no fear at that age. Mind you, there was a much smaller crowd that time.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The band played a hit-packed 50-minute set on Saturday morning

You played Let's Get Married followed by Sunshine on Leith, which are classic wedding and funeral songs. What does it mean to you to have written songs that soundtrack those pivotal moments in people's lives?

Charlie: It's interesting - Sunshine On Leith has become one of the funeral songs in Scotland. I don't think it beats Angels by Robbie, but a lot of funerals play Sunshine on Leith.

Craig: I'll be honest, if you've been around a long time, a lot of people have a lot of years to hear your songs, maybe even from childhood, and they take on new meanings and memories down the years. So I think older songs have more impact.

You opened with Angry Cyclist, which came out last year. Does the new stuff go down as well as the classics?

Charlie: We're really proud of that song and proud of the album, so I think it merits its place in the set - even a short one like this.

You keep getting introduced to new generations through films like Shrek and Sunshine on Leith. Did you notice a difference in the audience after those came out?

Charlie: Yes! The audience got somewhat younger! The combination of that and playing festivals - you can replenish your audience by young people seeing you. Then hopefully on the next theatre tour, some of them will come along. It's helped us greatly.

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Your film Sunshine on Leith has unexpectedly become the first in a trilogy of musicals by Dexter Fletcher, who went on to direct Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man. Did you have any idea that would be where he ended up?

Charlie: He's always struck me as a winner, Dexter. Even from when he was a kid, he has that sort of Essex jaunty thing.

You get stories back from film sets, and everyone was really positive on Sunshine On Leith, and the director has something to do with that. So when I heard he was tidying up the Queen thing [after original director Brian Singer left mid-production], I thought, 'Yeah, he'll gee everybody up.'

He's a heck of a talent and I'm delighted at how successful he's become. And I'm glad that we're one of the first thing he worked on.

Image source, DNA Films
Image caption,
Sunshine on Leith was a musical based on The Proclaimers' songs

If someone came up and said we wanted to put on a Dexter Fletcher festival, let's call it DexFest, with you, Queen and Elton John on the same bill, would you be up for it?

Craig: Definitely up for it, but we'd demand the biggest dressing room.

Even bigger than Elton?

Craig: No chance of that. We don't have enough hats. Elton needs more room than we do.

Next year is Glastonbury's 50th anniversary. If you got to choose the bill, who would you book to headline?

Charlie: Maybe some that aren't around any more. I'd always have The Clash, The Who and, God almighty, if they were around, I'd have the Small Faces as well.

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