MiG Records [Release date 30.10.20]
A year or so ago I went along to the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow for the world premiere of the Final Dance DVD which was recorded at the band’s final show in Stirling. It was a memorable night for many reasons and the DVD presentation was a fitting legacy for a band who had entertained for 40 odd years.
This box set then takes us further back into the band’s past and covers both the Donnie Munro and Bruce Guthro periods which make it a unique package. Both shows were recorded and filmed for Rockpalast and is the latest in the series released by MiG Records. The box set is made up of four live CD’s and two DVD’s containing the full sets from both shows and comes complete with a comprehensive sleeve note booklet.
The first of the two shows takes us back to the Philipshalle in Dusseldorf on the 3rd Feb 1996. This was the second sell out night in the hall on the band’s ‘Mara’ tour complete with a stage set resembling a harbourside in a small Scottish west coast village. I do have a rather tenuous link with the Mara album in that my father in law played on the album as part of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, I did say the link was tenuous!
‘Day In A Boat’ leads into ‘Nothing But The Sun’ to kick of proceedings. The sound mix is excellent, clear and well balanced, and as things hot up with ‘City Of Lights’ you can hear the crowd roaring along. The set is a good mix of songs from Mara and plenty of old favourites to keep the crowd dancing.
Donnie Munro was in good voice, especially on ‘The Greatest Flame’ where he is accompanied by Pete Wishart on keyboards. An acoustic medley of ‘Healer In Your Heart’, ‘Stepping Down The Glory Road’ and ‘Middleton Mouse’ also add a different element to the show and proved to be a real crowd pleaser.
It is though the band’s signature songs that really hit the mark with excellent versions of ‘Skye’, ‘Alba’ and ‘Loch Lomond’ really grabbing the audience’s attention as they sang and danced along. If I had one criticism to level at the show it’s that the Mara album was a fairly introspective album with few upbeat tracks and because a good part of the set is taken from said disc the set does lag in parts. However, overall this show is a great watch and an excellent record of the band with Donnie Munro at the helm.
By the time we reach Cologne in 2001 Donnie had departed as had Pete Wishart, both to pursue careers in politics with differing levels of success. In their place we had Bruce Guthro on vocals and Brian Hurran on keyboards and, on this viewing, the band appeared to have a renewed vigour and were there for one hell of a (Christmas) party!
One feature of this set is the amazing guitar work of Malcolm Jones who is allowed to cut loose on many of the tracks which adds a rockier edge to the proceedings. Malcolm kicks the set off with a brief ‘Running To The Light’ before the band join him for ‘Wall Of China – One Man’. This show was in support of the ‘Stamping Ground’ album and features a good smattering of tracks from said opus.
The set again is a great mix of the old and the new with the emphasis put on the more upbeat tracks to keep the party going and the Cologne audience on their toes. There are many highlights throughout the 24 tracks on offer with the likes of ‘Saints Of The Soil’ and ‘Protect and Survive’ going down a storm.
Again, as with the Dusseldorf show there is an acoustic interlude, and on this occasion the excellent ‘Every River’ steals the show with a great vocal from Bruce and delicate guitar touches from Malcolm Jones. The band are soon back to full force and with songs like ‘May Morning’, ‘Skye’ and ‘Loch Lomond’ in the set it’s not long before the party is back in full swing.
Being a Christmas show, things wouldn’t be complete without a musical nod in that direction and as such you get a blast of ‘Jingle Bells and the set finishes with Bruce Guthro leading the crowd in a chorus of ‘Stille Nacht’.
No matter what era of Runrig you prefer this package has something for everyone and it serves as a great reminder of how good a band Runrig were. It is also another excellent release from the Rockpalast back catalogue that is, luckily for us, full of gems like this. A must have for any self -respecting Runrig fan.
Review by Dave Wilson
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