Rura release Live At The Old Fruitmarket on September 11th. There are a limited number of ways of saying how good this is, so let’s try one I’ve used before: this is good; and one I haven’t: I wasn’t at Celtic Connections this year but there have been a number of artists that I really wish I’d seen play there. Given this album, top of the list – a strong list – would have been Rura.
Rura are a four piece-band of stunning musicians. The gig/album Live At The Old Fruitmarket has an even more stunning sound because they brought on stage previous band members plus additional collaborators on pipes/whistle, on bass and synths, and on strings. The set opens with ‘Catriona’s’, written for Orcadian fiddler Catriona Price and in the link below you can hear how apparently effortlessly the band intertwine their music with each other, a steady beginning rising to a spritely soundscape.
‘Dark Reel’ is my favourite track, Steven Blake’s pipes dominating a track which, even more than the opener, begins steadily and rises to levels of complexity, speed and playing that hit you with that awe-inspiring feel you get when you reach the top of a mountain and see an unknown vista suddenly spread out in front of you on the other side. I’m playing the track as I write this paragraph and I’ve noticed that it’s making me type more quickly, that’s how much this music engages the spirit.
‘In Praise Of Home’ and ‘I’ll Never Forget’ are from the band’s last album and include voiceovers from two band members’ grandparents, reflecting on their memories from childhood. ‘Day One’ gets the audience clapping along – not polite clapping but clapping like a dervish keeping the tempo. I really wish I’d been at the gig; if the album can capture this energy, the live performance must have been magnificent.
‘Mary’ is lovely, channelling modern Scottish music and remembrances of Sam Cooke as I listen; ‘The Glorious 45’ is a timely reminder that 45% voted for Sottish independence in the 2014 referendum; ‘Elliott’s’ is another track which starts quietly and then the band join dazzlingly together; ‘Weary Days’ closes the main set, as close as this album gets to a ballad.
The encore consists of ‘Horizons Pt.1’ and ‘Horizons Pt.2’ from their last album. The former is more dreamy, written to convey “the indescribable things you can’t quite express through language”. The latter builds from the dreamy mood of Part 1 into a fizzing tune that leaves the audience clamouring for more at the end of this gig/album – and not just the February audience, six months later on and listening in to the evening, so am I.
Live At The Old Fruitmarket was recorded as Rura’s tenth anniversary gig; it’s good to have a more permanent chronicle of the event.
Artists’ website: https://www.rura.co.uk
‘Catriona’s’ – live: