Runrig performed a farewell concert(s) at Stirling Castle. This is a 3CD and DVD release to commemorate their last ever concert.
Just when you thought it was safe, The Scottish Band are back!
Well, not back exactly so much as celebrating their farewell. A three disc release, which (bar one or two tracks) is their last concert at Stirling Castle. As such, it’s a three disc release that has everything you loved and hated about Runrig.
As a quick disclaimer of impartiality, I got in to ‘The Rig’ in the very late 80s. I generally really like them. I understand that my entirely reasonable position isn’t always shared by others.
Where do you start with Runrig? Earnest. That’s where you start. U2 without the humor. Steely eyed SNP MPs who used to play keyboards. (See: earnest.) Bouffant hair. Rolled up sleeves on leather jackets.
But an album that got to No2 in the UK album chart; another that got to No4. Good musicians – you may not have liked WHAT they played, but you could never argue that it wasn’t well played. And yes, it was Celt rock to the power of 10, with a large part of the oeuvre being delivered in Gaelic. Compelling, eh.
So what does this release tell us? Nothing you didn’t already know, and it’s unlikely to change your mind from any position you already hold. There’s not a lot of point reviewing from that standpoint. Better, perhaps, to look at what it represents – a farewell from a band who’s being doing this since 1973. It was, clearly, emotional. There are moments where an old softy could sense the exchange of thanks between band and audience.
What stands out? Well, it’s (mainly) an extended greatest hits. It’s the revised Once In a Lifetime live compilation. That means an immediately happy audience – no wondering how many off the new album until the good stuff arrives. If you’re a fan, it’s all the good stuff. Would I have started with a foot stomper instead of the slower number? Yeah, maybe. But I work in HR and haven’t produced concerts for over 40 years.
Let’s get my quibbles out the way, and really they’re more about band history than these releases – it’s just that they really show up here. I’m not convinced by Bruce Guthro (who is unto Runrig as that fella who replaced Hugh Cornwell is to The Stranglers) singing Gaelic – he isn’t a native speaker. And his voice, on some numbers, has a little edge to it that the fuller voiced Donnie Munro never had. Were some of the “hits” left out? Yup. And would it really have killed to have had Donnie Munro on more tracks? One song on a three disc release seems paltry recognition of his contribution.
Are you going to go buy it? Unless it was already on your wish list, or you have a sudden interest in them, nope. Will I? Yup.
Let me give you the fan view: stonking show. Really. It’s the show I wish Big Country had to bow out on. Going out on a high with a crowd who were there to say goodbye? If you’re a fan, you’re going to buy this, and the DVD release, and you’ll play it a lot. Listening to it, I wish I had been there, and I suppose that’s the best testament you can pay to it. It’s a more than adequate second best.
Earnest? Yup. But there’s not a lot wrong with a band committed to their music and their message, and consistently delivering a really high quality live experience to their fans as a live experience. If you’re a fan – buy it. If you’re not, and you’re interested, I’d go back in time to the OIAL release, and if that whets your appetite, build out from there.
But as farewells go? Pretty good. Pretty damn good.