Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Runrig, Albert Hall, Stirling, 7 December 2007

Not sure how many times Hilary and I have seen Runrig now, but it's a lot. The first time was at the Edinburgh Playhouse on the Once In A Lifetime tour, which would be 1988: I remember we were on the balcony and the whole structure was gently flexing up and down as an enthusiastic audience leapt around. Then a few more times until the final concert with lead vocalist and founder member Donnie Munro, which was at Stirling Castle on the night the Princess of Wales died. Then (the only other time we've seen them in the Albert Hall) the band's first gig with their new singer Bruce Guthro; then various other times and places, including the band's 30th anniversary gig, also at Stirling Castle.

Tonight was near the end of a long European tour, and Bruce's voice sounded a little tired but still good, even if he was less bouncy and exuberant than normal. The rest of the band were on fine form, especially guitarist Malcolm Jones (is he ever not on fine form?) The setlist concentrated on the new album, with some songs from the previous three and very few of the Donnie Munro-era favourites: while they've tended to avoid the big ballads from that era which Donnie very much owned, they have previously done quite a few of the numbers where Rory sings, as the video clips below from the 30th anniversary concert demonstrate. Siol Ghoraidh in particular has made regular appearances. Not tonight though - we had:

Year Of The Flood
Road Trip
Ocean Road
Pride Of The Summer
The Engine Room
Every River
Clash Of The Ash
Faileas Air An Airidh
A Reiteach
Hearts Of Olden Glory
Protect And Survive
In Scandinavia
Something's Got To Give
Loch Lomond
Book Of Golden Stories

Like any band who've been around a while, Runrig have their detractors, and it must be admitted that they've gone through periods when their new material wasn't up to earlier standards. However, their current stuff is first-rate, and they've carved themselves a niche in Scottish culture. As befits a group who started out singing almost entirely in Gaelic, and who must be considered if not the inventors of "Celtic rock" very definitely early exponents of it, their material has often had a nationalist political edge to it. It was appropriate, then, that Maymorning (written the day after the referendum vote for Scottish devolution) became the BBC's theme music for all their coverage of the opening of the Scottish Parliament in the following May.

Anyway, enough from me. Here are the boys doing Hearthammer (not, as YouTube has it, Hearthhammer!) at the 30th anniversary concert. The fly-past by RAF jets also says something about the place of Runrig in the national consciousness, I feel. Fabulous location, BTW.

And here they are doing Siol Ghoraidh at the same show. The red flags were always a feature of the number - about the Highland Clearances - in live shows.

Finally, Loch Lomond, a song they rescued from the Celtic twilight into which it had fallen. They recorded it on one of their first albums, and it rapidly became a live favourite (though the live version evolved into a somewhat less sombre experience (to put it mildly!) than that original album track, which still makes chilling listening. (Well, it is meant to be sung by someone facing execution.) The particular version in the clip has been at number one in Scotland for three weeks now, raising money for children's charities. (Bruce's comment "This one's for tomorrow" refers to the Scotland v Italy Euro 2008 qualifier taking place in the same stadium the next night. Sadly, Scotland were the ones executed.)


At 08 December, 2007 09:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all was at the concert in stirling last night and it was great. The atmosphere as usual was amazing the boys are still going strong


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