Gig review: RUNRIG – The Last Dance DVD World Premiere – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow – 17 August 2019

Exactly one year ago to the day I and around 25,000 other Runrig fans descended on the City Park in my home town of Stirling to witness the band’s final show. After 45 years the guys had decided that retirement beckoned but not without one last hurrah. Initially this was to be a one night only affair but due to overwhelming demand a second night was added to allow 50,000 fans from around the world to have one last dance with a band that had meant so much to so many.

However, it would have been amiss not to record the whole thing for posterity for those who couldn’t get a ticket or couldn’t make the trek to the best city in Scotland (no bias there!) The DVD is now ready for release and to mark the occasion the band hired the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow for the world premiere as part of a 5 date launch tour also taking in dates in Germany and Denmark.

The evening consisted of a thirty minute Q and A session with the band before the DVD production was shown in full on a huge screen with a PA to match. The hall was almost a sell out with around 1500 people in attendance to catch the band together for one night only, the other dates on the promo tour were for the DVD showing only with no band presence.

A heartfelt cheer greeted the entry of the band to the stage for the Q and A session led by singer/songwriter and Radio Scotland DJ Roddy Hart. I have witnessed a couple of Q and A sessions like this and they are always slightly awkward not helped by the fact that Roddy was no Jeremy Paxman!

The interview was light hearted and focused, unsurprisingly, on that final night, ‘How did you feel before the show?’, ‘How did you feel after the show?, all in-depth stuff! Drummer Ian Bain raised a laugh when asked what he missed most about playing live by saying one thing he didn’t miss was looking at singer Bruce Guthro’s backside every night! Bruce then bent over in front of him just for old time sake…

As well as Roddy’s questions there were a few from the audience with the best kept until last. The band had obviously anticipated this one as when asked ‘Can you sing one last song?’, they replied with a highly emotional version of ‘Hearts Of Olden Glory’. Both band and crowd sang as one and there was hardly a dry eye in the house at the end, either in the crowd or onstage. The cheer that followed raised the roof and I am sure the band were starting to have second thoughts about the retirement plan.

After a quick interval the main part of the night was set to begin, the full screening of that last show in glorious technicolour. With the big screen and the pumping PA system it really brought the DVD to life. Most people in the crowd had been there judging by ‘The Last Dance’ event tee shirt count and were ready to party like it was 2018. Over the course of the three hours of the excellent DVD the crowd clapped, sang and danced along to all the Runrig favourites whilst trying to spot themselves in the crowd in one of the many audience shots.

Looking back at the performance now the band really threw everything into the show. You could argue over the setlist and the fact that former lead singer Donnie Munro only featured very briefly in the proceedings although he had played his own set laced with Runrig classics earlier in the day.

By the time we reached ‘Loch Lomond’ the whole hall were on their feet and raising the Concert Hall roof in celebration, it may only have been a DVD but the crowd weren’t going to let that dampen their spirits. The voices joined once more for another rendition of ‘Hearts Of Olden Glory’ before the fireworks hit the Stirling skyline illuminating the castle and bringing the evening to a close. As an event this proved to be a great success and provided an opportunity for the Runrig community to reconvene and enjoy one last dance together.

Or is it? During the Q and A session the guys mentioned several times that they wished they were there to play and how much they missed the live shows. ‘The Last Dance’? Only time will tell…

The DVD produced by Blazing Griffin is available now from Sony Music

Review and photos by Dave Wilson

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.

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