I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has been here, here being the position of seeing band at festival, thinking band pretty good, seeing band a few weeks later in theatre, thinking band not quite as pretty good. That is the boat I find myself in regarding the above, for those that don’t know Rura are a four piece traditional Scottish folk band who become a five piece band when Adam Holmes joins them to deliver his own songs.
I can put my finger on a couple of reasons for this disconcerting position in which I find myself – the major one being that Rura sound like two different bands, the enormously dexterous and extremely competent traditional band brim-full of jigs, reels and laments, and the one that serves as a purely functional backing vehicle for Adam Holmes mysterious songs. I guess the other main reason is the difference between a festival and theatre settings, at a festival they have an hour, or less, in front of several thousand exuberant fans full of good vibes and alcohol whereas, in a theatre, they have ninety minutes or so in front of a seated and more thoughtful audience who, maybe, demand a little more from their evening out. However full marks to Rura for the way in which they dealt with the longer theatre set – essentially the same as the festival set with more talking in between.
All that said Rura do nothing that I really dislike, they just seem very restrained whilst they are doing it. Maybe, to use a football comparison, they are content to avoid the relegation dog fight but not really up for the push for promotion. Perhaps that is also the reason that they sounded better mid-afternoon at a festival rather than as a headline act on a run of the mill Wednesday night.
Enough of all that, and to prove that I was paying attention, I shall mention my two highlights which, coincidentally, are cover versions of sorts. The first was Adam Holmes setting of the Robert Burns poem “Cauld wind blast” which was superb, only topped by his solo version of the late Townes Van Zandt song “Loretta”. Here I will painfully edit myself as myself and Townes have mutual acquaintances and I could ramble on for days!
And that, dear reader, is about all I have to say on the subject of Rura at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds, nothing at all to dislike but the school report would read could do better as the potential is certainly there.