Reviewed by Jonathan Day
Grey rain spotted the fish-scale sea and a squall hovered resolutely over the rolled upland the first time I chugged, with the ferry, across the aquamarine strait to lona. The wind sang wild airs through age-worn ruins and the waves were a syncopated celebration on the sand, 'lona' live (the band, not the island) can be equally inspiring. Their individual blend of acoustic and electronic, Celtic and contemporary, recalls the glories of prime period Clannad, without being copyist. Where Clannad often deal with Celtic spirituality, lona deal with Celtic Christianity. There is a difference. To capture these things on film is no easy task. The vid follows the time-honoured rockumentary format, cutting between live footage, landscape shots and interviews. Amusingly, there are even shots of Lock Lomond and the highlands, documenting, one assumes, the journey North! The live footage is imaginatively shot and doesn't become tedious. Perhaps, most significantly, this is not Milli Vanilli. This IS live. "The Island" here walks all over the album version, and Dave Fitzgerald's sax exalts in this setting. There's even a choked note to prove it's real. The landscape footage is gorgeous, eloquent testimony to the Creator's hand. The computer enhancement, though usually effective, occasionally betrays the budget. Interviews cover the island of lona's history and the band speak honestly and passionately about their faith. There was only one bone of contention among those sitting around my telly, some wanting less chat and more music. The talk is not all gripping but there are some very powerful moments. So, thirty minutes of film, nine songs from the debut album and half a new song filmed in rehearsal, lona is a beautiful place and the band are powerful communicators. This film does both justice.
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