Sunday, November 22, 2009

Runrig: Skye

Writing, as I am, in an Edinburgh hotel bedroom, this seems an appropriate choice.

Runrig began as an almost wilfully obscure band. Its roots were in Skye and the Outer Hebrides and many of its early songs were sung in Gaelic. I have their third LP -"Recovery" - from 1981 (Market Harborough Woolworth's bargain rack in used to broaden my tastes nicely), and much of it is concerned with the history of the crofters.

They later became more commercial, with anthems like this one and "Loch Lomond" (still with a Gaelic interlude) becoming particularly popular.

Runrig are a political band, not only in the concerns of their songs, but also in their personnel. The keyboard player here is Pete Wishart, now an SNP MP at Westminster. And Runrig's long-term vocalist Donnie Munro left the band to fight the Ross, Skye and Inverness West seat in the first elections for the Scottish Parliament, but was defeated by the Liberal Democrats' legendary John Farquhar Munro.

In the years since Munro left them Runrig have veered more to the middle of the road. World music, when crossed with soft rock, all tends to sound the same, whatever part of the world it comes from. There is a tape they play in Thai restaurants that sounds oddly like late Runrig.

I saw Runrig play life at Portree Town Hall (which in truth is more like a village hall) with a fellow blogger 10 years ago. It was a good night and the sense of a band coming home was palpable.

1 comment:

Paul Evans said...

My dad took me to see Runrig when I was 12, they were magic. Interviewed Pete Wishart for the NS a year or so ago - he's a gent.