Runrig - Day of Days - the 30th Anniversary Concert
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Day of Days - the 30th Anniversary Concert
Ridge Records - DVD

To celebrate Runrig's thirtieth anniversary, the band chose one of the most spectacular venues imaginable: Sterling Castle. The opening sequence offers a view of the beautiful countryside in the surrounding area. But this is not a travel program - it's a rock concert - folk-rock, perhaps but still rock - with all the thrills and excitement you'd expect from one. The sextet features electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, keyboards as well as accordion and midi pipes. The playing is tight and clean, full of exuberance and power.

Guitarist Malcolm Jones is inventive and creates the main focus of the instrumental work. He weaves sweeping lines designed to lift the audience and he succeeds with plenty to spare. The rest of the band mainly forms a rhythm section behind him. Iain Bayne (drums) and Calum Macdonald (percussion) form the foundation on top of which Bruce Guthro (rhythm guitar), Rory Macdonald (bass) and Brian Hurren (keyboards) add textures, layers and coloring.

But for me, it is the vocal work of Runrig that is most impressive. Guthro and Rory Macdonald perform most of the lead singing while Jones, Hurren and Calum Macdonald add harmonies and backups. Although with similar ranges, Guthro and Macdonald have exquisitely contrasting voices. When they pass lead between them, the dynamic changes in sound draw you deeper into the songs. They create strong character in the music, especially when Jones' guitar comes into play almost as a third voice.

The album features many songs from the band's repertoire built up over the years. They mix rhythms and tempos well, involving the audience (which is well-versed in the material, too!) at appropriate points, effectively transferring the atmosphere of the live performance to DVD.

The direction introduces split screens, short sharp shots, awkward angles, moving cameras and plenty of views of the audience; at times, the images move as fast as the music to capture the concert.

Other features on the DVD include bios of the band and additional footage from the evening, including conversations with former band members and special guests.

Though the sun sets elegantly during the course of the concert, this is not the twilight time of Runrig. Combining skills developed over years with an enthusiasm which can only be called youthful, Runrig goes from strength to strength. In 30 years, the band has amassed a strong collection of songs and tunes and developed arrangements which show off the musicians at their best. It's a long DVD, but there's not a wasted moment in the entire 96 minutes. - Jamie O'Brien

The band's web site:

CD available from cdRoots

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