Rura – Live At The Old Fruitmarket: Album Review

Rura release a tenth anniversary live set with plenty special guests and a setting where they’re both at home and at their most vibrant.

Release Date: 11th September 2020

Label: Birnam CD/RURACD003

Format: CD / DL

Amongst the classic live rock albums – Live At Leeds, Made In Japan, Live & Dangerous, Comes Alive spring to mind – Rura’s Live At The Old Fruitmarket is suitably understated and much more of rustic charm. It doesn’t quite match my favourite title of all time, Slow Reader’s Club’s Live at Central Library, but in terms of live albums, it’s not less electrifying than any Seventies acclaimed work of wonder.

The quartet is supplemented by a rolling cast of guests at the 2020 Celtic Connections that add to the vim and vigour, and the ebb and flow of the set. There’s even a string section that converts Rura into one of those exciting folk ‘big bands’ that offer a widescreen alternative to the organic charm. It’s evident in the opening Catriona’s where the strings provide a blanket over which the Celtic melody dances.

It’s also a set that showcases the full range of the repertoire. The Rura catalogue is mined with trips back to the 2012 dbut album Break It Up and onto their most recent work, the insturmenal might of In Praise Of Home.

Songs include the evocative spoken word contributions of family members on In Praise Of Home and I’ll Never Forget. However, the way the skirl of pipes segues from the “I remember, home...” line into the life-affirming dazzle in Day One is a key moment.

It’s that instrumental power and prowess and the inevitable uptempo and inspirational surges. Often, as in The Dark Reel, being fuelled by a gentle and brooding intro before the whip gets cracked and the band ramp up the ante – “Glasgow here we go!” There’s not much that can match the feeling in the audience that comes from that sudden shifting of gear where you can’t beat a grand bit of tuneage.

Rounding off with the two-part Horizons, the gentle air of Part 1 inevitably giving in to a breathless energy in Part 2. There could or should be no other way to end a folk gig. Fantastic music to jump about to.

This is an album that sees Rura taking their place at the head of the table, representing the might of the contemporary Scottish folk scene. Up there with Breabach, Manran, Treacherous Orchestra , The Shee and Talisk, the beauty is that they’re the mere tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a flavour from the front row:

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