2004 (Ridge Columbia)
The Scottish band Runrig managed to build a live reputation of the highest order with its steaming Celtic rock. So it is not surprising that their discography has a lot of live albums. A very nice one is “Day Of Days” from 2004 with the concert registration the band gave on the occasion of celebrating their 30th anniversary. It was quite a happening the evening of 23rd of August 2003 when Runrig experienced the day of days in the open air at Stirling Castle together with their massive amount of fans.
The recording is available on both CD and DVD, and it should be noted that both sound carriers have an added value in relation to each other. In the case of the CD, three acoustic bonus tracks are added, the DVD shows eight more songs and there are the necessary features present of course. I would say both are value for money.
The band brings a representative cross-section of what Runrig has stood for over the years, back in those days founded by, among others, the brothers Rory and Calum MacDonald. Respectively they play bass guitar and percussion with verve. At the time of the anniversary concert the brothers have been on board all along, while guitarist Malcolm Jones has been around for 25 years and drummer Iain Bayne for 23 years. On the other hand singer Bruce Guthro has only joined Runrig for a few years and keyboardist Brian Hurren is fairly new to the band. It is therefore logical that they perform like a well-oiled machine and absolutely blissful. The performance is high on adrenaline and also on the CD, on which the number of songs is reduced to 12, the blood, sweat and goosebumps character remains intact.
The concert starts beautifully with the oldie Going Home in a new atmospheric soundscape-like arrangement. Next, Runrig comes up with two dynamic tracks, Hearthammer and Protect And Survive, that perfectly illustrate the band’s sound. Characteristic of the band sound are the many vocal harmonies, but especially typical are the popping rhythms. In the big sounding songs, it is always thunderous. It also works out well that the guitar rocks nicely towards U2 and Big Country, in that respect.
The band really touched my soul with their great way of composing. While all songs were written by a creative pen, Hearts Of Olden Glory is simply of another galaxy. It has the allure of a traditional originated from a genius mind. The interpretations are also sublime, especially the guitar solo sparkles and the piece with the audience singing along is goosebumps all over the place. The rippling Proterra comes out very strongly also. The song has a pastorally cheerful sound. Although there are beautiful guest roles by Paul Mounsey on piano and Duncan Chisholm on electric violin, it is Runrig themselves who makes the song brilliant. Bruce Guthro, who always sings with integrity, completes the song with his sympathetic vocals. Strange that in the announcements he sounds just as hoarse as a darts presenter who announces his tenth 180-er but as a singer, on the other hand, he is just in fine voice.
In the smooth Running To The Light, Guthro leaves the lead vocals to bassist Rory MacDonald who also has a great voice. MacDonald is busy with background vocals throughout the performance and occasionally he does a bit of lead. In Running To The Light he does it all by himself and also in Faileas Air An Airigh he does the lead vocals, simply because Guthro as a Canadian is not powerful in Gaelic. The regular album closes with the beautiful Book Of Golden Stories, a subdued song that is performed with acoustic guitar, accordion and a lot of harmony singing. Especially the high soulful voice of keyboardist Brian Hurren is a pleasure to the ear.
The part with the bonus tracks lasts less than twelve minutes. The three songs we hear are all from the beautiful “Proterra” album. The acoustic sound they show looks good on them. The smooth Day Of Days has a rousing character, the folky panache of All The Miles is genuine country and A Rèiteach is a strong Gaelic song.
“Day Of Days” makes it very clear that Runrig was a passionated band. It is typical that a band with such a low prog content knows how to appeal to so many progheads. Yet so be it.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022