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Celtic favourites find new Stamping Ground

Runrig Usher Hall

Drew McAdam

In a well-planned opening, with the house lights still up, a solo accordion was heard in the wings. As this gave way to swirling chords from the keyboards, the stage came alive with a spectacular light show as the band members took their places and added their instruments to the melody.

Malcolm Jonesí soaring guitar was joined by Rory Macdonaldís thundering bass as Ian Bayne got behind the drum kit and assembled a wall-shaking beat that rose to a climax before suddenly erupting into the opening number.

The crowd was on its feet with a large section surging forward to the front of the stage.

Then came our intro to the new front man, Canadian Bruce Guthro. Hang on ; a transatlantic accent fronting Scotlandís premier Celtic rock band?

However, there is no faulting his immense vocal talent and stage presence as his voice soars and dips, sometimes sweet and at other times gritty . In a way, heís a symbol for the new Runrig. Revitalised and inspired with a sharpened edge, they deliver power-rock favourites such as Protect and Survive.

A non-stop stream of old and new material demonstrated every facet of their ability as they pulled the crowd into their flag-waving anthems and catchy melodies.

The whirlpool of instruments is still there, and they are still happy to take Celtic rock and wave it as a banner. Itís Runrig all right, but with a freshness and raw power that has been lacking in recent years.

But if they can deliver the power, they can certainly deliver passion too. With only Guthro on acoustic guitar and Malcolm Jones on electric, You Ask Me To Commit Suicide Of The Heart marked the start of an emotionally charged version of Every River. The highlight of the show was the pleading reprise Iíd Rather Be With You, surely one of the most beautiful and poignant songs ever penned to mark the tragedy of lost love.

There were sniffles and moist eyes as the song finished, but they were quickly forgotten with the opening bars of thunderous and heart-stirring Hearts of Golden Glory.

The title track from the new album, The Stamping Ground, is well named. It demands you sing along, clap your hands and pound your feet. Then a pipe band was brought on to really stir things up.

And so to the close, marked by the immortal line Where Me And My True Love Will Never Meet Again. The crowd raised the roof as they joined in Loch Lomond as one, bringing the whole show to a superb climax.

Edinburgh Evening News,dec. 5th 2001

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