11th of October in Paisley: The Spree Festival.
I first encountered Rura in 2012, in a packed school hall in a tiny village on Orkney. The Glasgow band had just been named ‘Best Up and Coming Act of 2011’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards and nominated for ‘Folk Band of the Year 2012’. Two years later, they still stun with the force of their folk, this time in the illustrious interior of The Spree Festival’s spiegeltent.
The band began with two immense sets from their debut album, Break It Up. The bagpipes are often avoided by bands as their intense tone, and volume, can drown out other musicians. Rura manage to avoid this however, and the pipes lend an incredible weight to Jack Smedley’s elegant fiddle. Since I last saw him play, Smedley has gained an undeniable confidence, now meaning instruments and tune effortlessly play off each other . They are backed by bodhran player David Foley, pushing the beat even harder and leading the crowd into their music.
The arrival of lethargic singer-songwriter Adam Holmes to the stage signalled a move to Rura’s more sensitive side. The band introduced some of Holmores’s new material as well as stunning with a track from their first album, Allegory. There aren’t many songs that can lay claim to a bagpipe solo – especially one as impressive as theirs but this unique song sees Rura smoothly blend controlled, if a little stilted, lyrics with raging instrumentals.
The second half of their set saw the band showcase more new material. Often, even with only one or two instruments playing the tune, Rura manage to create a sound worthy of bands like Fiddlers’ Bid or Session A9. Their incredible energy sees the fusion of these bands’ heavy-weight fiddle with the engaging arrangements of artists like Aidan O’Rourke. As a result, Rura’s demanding playing captivates audiences.
The band invited Holmes on again for their encore song. Reluctantly, he taught the audience his lyrics: “Will you come out drinking with me, with me?” Yes Rura, yes we will.
[Halina Romaniszyn – @bisforbeanie]