Hebcelt bring Runrig ‘The Story’ tour to Island festival

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Scottish rock legends Runrig will make the Gaelic heartland part of their 2016 UK tour by headlining next year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival.

The band will close the 21st HebCelt’s ‘coming of age’ celebrations on Saturday, 16 July during the nationwide tour in support of their 14th - and last - studio album, The Story, which is released in January.

With a sell-out crowd predicted, fans are being urged to book in advance.

A limited number of early bird weekend tickets for the award-winning festival will be available to buy online at www.hebceltfest.com from Friday (27th November).

Held at last year’s rates, the prices range from £83 (£64 for concessions and £20 for children under 14 with under 5s going free) for the main arena events.

It will be Runrig’s fourth appearance at HebCelt, where the internationally-renowned band are also honoured in the Hall of Fame for their outstanding contribution to Celtic music.

They say HebCelt is as close as it gets to coming home and, therefore, there could be no more fitting place to include on the tour.

Guitarist and founder member Rory Macdonald said: “Of all the festivals we have played there is no doubt that HebCelt stands alone in the band’s experience. It is the festival that is closest to the music and the people that inspired us. It is very much home ground.”

Brian Hurren, the band’s keyboard player, added: “I can’t wait to get the sounds and the emotion of the studio recordings transposed into the context of the live show. It was a very special album for us all and the live tour will be no exception.”

HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan, added: “Runrig are quite rightly regarded as musical legends, not just in Scotland but across the globe. We are so excited they will be joining us next year – their only gig in the Highlands and Islands - during their nationwide tour.

“Their rise has been mirrored by the increase in interest in the Gaelic language and they are seen as local heroes in these parts. We know their huge following in the islands will be thrilled that they will be back with us in 2016.

“We will shortly be announcing some other superb acts and look forward to presenting a diverse and innovative programme for 2016 to give our audience around the world plenty to look forward to.”

The original Runrig Dance Band performed for the first time as a three piece in 1973 at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall with Rory Macdonald on guitar, brother Calum on drums and Blair Douglas on accordion. Singer Donnie Munro joined the following year.

Later Blair left, and they were joined by accordionist and old school friend Robert Macdonald, who died in 1986 after a long battle against cancer.

Subsequent changes saw guitarist Malcolm Jones, drummer Iain Bayne and Richard Cherns, on keyboards, join. When Richard left in 1986 his place was taken by Pete Wishart, which completed the classic Runrig line up that was to endure for a decade.

In 1997 Donnie left to pursue a political career and his place was taken by Canadian Bruce Guthro. Pete was later replaced by Brian Hurren in 2001 to put in place the current line-up.

Last year the band staged Party on the Moor, a massive gig at Muir of Ord, near Inverness, to celebrate their 40th anniversary and the remarkable journey from island dance band to international phenomenon.

Their 2016 tour starts in Aberdeen in February after two years of writing and recording the new album. A single, also called The Story, and video are already available.

HebCelt has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for Celtic and traditional music, generating more than £20 million for the local economy over two decades.

Last year, it marked its 20th anniversary by hosting its biggest number of live performances ever with more than 50 hours of music and arts events staged in the main arena in the grounds of Lews Castle, as well as an Lanntair arts centre in the town centre and other venues in rural areas.

Audiences included visitors travelling from throughout the UK and Europe as well from the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

This year’s festival will be held from 13-16 July.