One of Scotland most underrated bands “Runrig”

This week has been “a funny old week”, as they say. One where you suddenly find a significant change in your life, but one, which seemed totally out of your control. But yet seems to seamlessly falls in to place with other events.  As if some other higher being is telling you something. Now I know this sound very deep. However, I am not a religious person. Spiritual yes religious no. But I say that with the greatest of respect

At the beginning of the week, my stepson came to me and asked me had I heard of a Scottish Band called Runrig. “Yes”, says I “they had a hit in the early 80’s but nothing since”. How wrong I was….. !

Runrig 50 greatest Songs ©

Jordan had downloaded 3 Albums of Runrig and said have you heard these. Obviously, I hadn’t, but being an aging rocker 50 + with an eclectic music taste from 50’s crooners like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Led Zeppelin, Motown, Norther Soul to Trance and chart music. I am always willing to hear something new. Being an aging rocker with a 200+ album, collection I considered myself to be quite knowledgeable when it comes to music, that was till now. the last few days has seen both of us wanting to connect our iPhone’s to the car stereo as we both have Runrig songs we wish to play. Previously Jordan would go to the back of the car with his iPhone and headphones. to cries of “whats this rubbish your playing”. We now have some common ground in the car thanks to Runrig.

To say I was pleasantly surprised was an understatement. As a young student growing up in Leeds in the 80’s. I used to love going, to what always seemed to be an out of the way, very small public houses. Haddon Hall, The Allerton and The Grove, The FForde Green. (although the FFord Green was quite a large pub, over two floors) Which would be featuring some local or never heard of band. We had some really brilliant nights with the music just creating this hard to describe electric atmosphere.

During the late 80’s I also when to some of the larger gigs. Queen at Elland Road (Leeds United Football Ground) in 1982, Rolling Stones at Roundhay Park Leeds and Elton John in 1993 at the Queens Hall Leeds.  And again, though I was quite the connoisseur of music driving round in my MKI Ford Fiesta complete with “Keep Music Live” stickers in the front and rear window. My trusty Pioneer auto reverse cassette player banging away. Oh, how easy life was back then,  There is just something about an open-air concert, that unless you’ve ever experienced it, its hard understand. The atmosphere during the day is electric. The clapping and chanting along to songs. Then dusk falls the music changes, the evening summer air is still blowing through the crowds. Lighters are lit in between the sombre songs and upbeat dancing of people on their partners shoulders.

So, imagine my surprise when I read that Runrig are performing, two live sell out concerts at Stirling Park. I look at the dates Aug 17th & 18th, 2018 and its only 5 days to go. “Brilliant” says I If only “I’d seen this sooner”. Just listening to the Runrig live tracks and thoughts of their farewell concert in Sterling, brought all these vivid memories flowing back

Runrig Album cover Essential

Runrig Essential ©

I then began to research this 3-piece band, which is anything but a 3-piece. The more I read the more I become intrigued. Formed in 1973 in Portree on the Isle of Skye by brothers Rory and Calum MacDonald. A lineup that has included Iain Bayne, Donnie Munro, Malcolm Jones, Brian Hurren and Canadian Bruce Guthro, Who replaced Donnie Munro as lead singer and not forgetting former Big Country member Pete Wishart. who went on to be a SNP MP.  I was astounded to find that Runrig had in fact released 14 Studio albums to date. None of which I’d heard till now. I began to search on iTunes and Spotify for Runrig songs and albums. I was suddenly lost like a kid in a sweet shop. Playing one track after another. Every song I played was perfect, both live and studio recorded songs.

I then received a email form the memorial site GoneTooSoon to say that there site, was closing, due to it no longer being viable financially. Everything posted of my sons memorial  would be lost. How could I create a memorial to him that we could salute in June his birthday and November, the anniversary of his passing, each year. He was born in Leeds, but Scottish through and through. Like a stick of Scottish Rock. If you snapped him in half  it would say Scotland all the way through him. As I  read the email I was playing the Runrig album The Highland Connection and the song that came on mid way through was called Going home the lyrics the melody all just seem to flow seamlessly. Almost a subliminal message from above. A short slide show was upload to YouTube and Runrig kindly gave permission for their track to be used, totally blown away Thank you Runrig

So as the week progressed, here was I with extreme mixed emotion, feeling somewhat robbed. to read that the last two concerts at Stirling Park aptly called the “Last Dance”, are in fact Runrig’s final farewell concerts to their fans 45,000 plus. It is not very often, especially today that you find a band that performs, as well, if not better live than they do in the studio. Runrig for me are outstanding both live and in the studio. The next step for me is to try and purchase some of their earlier albums on Vinyl.

Last Dance image

Runrig The Last Dance Stirling 2018 ©

On analysis however, I have to ask why this band has not had better coverage? Is it due to their background and their origins? Do people mistakenly label Runrig, as purely a folk group? Something that they are not.!  Yes, it’s true they have adopted folk into their music along with the gallic language. However, for me this adds culture to the music and only serves to enhance their music. My only regret, is that I never discovered this band sooner and as a result I will probably, never get to see them play live. Runrig definitely have a new fan in me so much so, I had to follow them on Twitter #runrig1973. Just in case one day they decided to come out of retirement fingers crossed



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