Gig Review: Runrig, Edinburgh

Runrig at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Runrig at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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ORIGINALLY formed as a humble dance band, this is exactly what Runrig have remained throughout their 40-year career. The only difference is that they’ve spent the past few decades treading much larger stages.

Castle Esplanade * * * *

Critics may sneer at their slick professionalism and unabashed patriotic sincerity, but they are no strangers to gigs of the Castle’s scale and they deliver everything the night’s 8000-strong audience could possibly hope for, even offering a few surprises.

What’s striking about the energetic numbers that open the show is how fresh and relevant they sound. Few, if any, young bands are prepared to acknowledge Runrig as an influence, but the propulsive drumming and raw, choppy guitars that characterise much of their best work are entirely compatible with current trends. More importantly, they lend the likes of Everything You See (Road Trip) and City of Lights an irresistible, stirring sense of urgency. These songs may contain the occasional trite lyric, but are so inherently appealing as to withstand logical opposition. In many ways, what we are hearing is music for the heart and not the head.

Appropriately, then, the evening’s most mawkish moments are also its best, full throated singalongs of The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and Hearts of Olden Glory reducing many a grown man to tears. Though dismissed as folk rock dinosaurs in many quarters, for a band of Runrig’s advancing years to continue to excite both themselves and a fiercely loyal audience is nothing short of remarkable.

LEWIS PORTEOUS