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Review: sit-down comedy + sublime music = a night of pure joy thanks to Aly and Phil

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham delivered another night of mirth and music at Mareel on Friday. Photo: Dale Smith.WHY would anyone want to read a review of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham’s 31st Annual World Tour of Shetland and Many Other Places Forbye? I mean, if you were there in Mareel on Friday night and/or Waas on Saturday, you already know what a superb evening’s entertainment it was. And if you weren’t there, well, a review will only upset you because you missed all the virtuoso musical merriment. But here goes, anyway…

‘A rich and unbelievably satisfying experience’

Cellist Abby Hayward  and pianist Neil Georgeson playing together for the first time. Photo: Jenny Leask/Shetland ArtsShetland Arts' 2017-18 Classical Season looked to be off to a flying start on Thursday night, with a packed auditorium, an excited audience, and a buzzing atmosphere, writes Alex Garrick-Wright. Then again, with the opening concert being two world-class, local musicians - playing together on home turf for the first time - the excitement was perhaps predictable.

Rockers revel in final helping of buffet festival

Headline act Vantage Point were a hit. Frontman Murray Graham gets involved with the crowd. Photo: Steven Johnson.THERE was a feast of rock music on offer in Lerwick on Friday night as the last Shetland Rock Festival opened in style.

Heavy Metal Buffet's fifth and final shindig saw mainland bands Twin Heart and Vantage Point hit the stage at the Legion.

Review: An epic story about personal and communal guilt

Lars Mytting. Photo: MacLehose PressTHE LATEST novel by award-winning Norwegian author Lars Mytting, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, was published last week. It is set in Norway, France and in Shetland. James Mackenzie read it for us:

Well now I know what a turquoise turtle knot is, and where to acquire Sandalwood scent (Truefitt and Hill). This I did not expect in a novel, in which – the publishers tell us – that the narrator Edvard's "desperate quest to unlock [his] family's secrets takes him on a long journey – from Norway to the Shetlands [sic], and to the battlefields of France – through most of a century, and to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance."

Salt House's impressive Fiddle Frenzy outing

Salt House (from left: Lauren McColl, Jenny Sturgeon and Ewan McPherson) performing at Mareel on Thursday evening. Photo: Kelly Nicolson Riddell.THIS year’s Fiddle Frenzy festival is in full flow, with the students off to Bressay for a concert and dance on Friday night followed by the closing night’s concert in Lerwick on Saturday.

Scottish alternative folk trio Salt House, featuring fiddler Lauren McColl, singer and harmonium player Jenny Sturgeon (who recently moved to the islands) and guitarist Ewan McPherson, headlined a fine evening of music at Mareel on Thursday night.

A unique introduction to classical music

SCO's Big Ears, Little Ears concert: 'a unique, interesting and genuinely important experience, for the parents and kids alike'. Photo: Alex Garrick-WrightTHE Scottish Chamber Orchestra's series of concerts in Shetland has been a little different than usual - two shows in local halls (Aith and Burravoe), a concert aimed at young children and parents, and one 'traditional' concert in Mareel.

Review: Jupitus has something for everyone

Comedian Phill Jupitus performing at Mareel on Saturday night. Photos: Davie Gardner.YOU may have seen Phill Jupitus on telly as a team captain on BBC2’s pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks over the last 20 years, or heard his dynamic voice over the radio presenting shows and regularly contributing on comedy panel shows. However, not many in the crowd would have seen Porky the Poet, one of his alter egos and the opening act of the night, writes Aaron Leask.

Review: SCO delivers vivid musical firework

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra receiving a prolonged applause after a 'dazzling and breathtaking' performance. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland NewsTHE Scottish Chamber Orchestra has been visiting Shetland intermittently for about 30 years: touring Scotland is one of its prime functions, and this year the deployment of its 24 strong string ensemble, under the direction of violinist Alexander Janiczek, has enabled the orchestra to tour Shetland itself – at Aith in the West Mainland, Burravoe in Yell, and at Mareel in Lerwick.

Martha Wainwright 'mesmerises' Mareel

The Mareel audience enjoyed an "intimate and intense" performance from Martha Wainwright on Wednesday night. Photo: Steven Johnson"You guys are quiet," Martha Wainwright told the audience sitting in the Mareel auditorium midway through her set on Wednesday night. "I'm gonna assume it's cause you're mesmerised," she added with a wry smile. She may have been on to something.

A songwriting masterclass from Mason

Willy Mason, accompanied by Siobhan Wilson on cello, delivered something of a songwriting masterclass at the Lerwick Legion on Monday night. Photo: Steven Johnson.THE FIFTY or so souls who ventured out to the Lerwick Legion on an unusually still midsummer Monday night enjoyed a bluesy-country treat in the form of an intimate concert from classy American troubadour Willy Mason.   

Probably best known for his mini-hit single Oxygen, which reached number 23 on the UK charts back in 2005, Mason’s career has gone a little quiet in recent years.

College exhibition a 'diverse display of talent'

Prints by BA Fine Art student Jane Ridland. Photo: Patrick MainlandAROUND 150 people attended the opening of Shetland College UHI's end-of-year art exhibition Vision 17 in Lerwick on Friday evening, writes Patrick Mainland.

The creative efforts of students from several different programmes of study covered the college walls in a truly diverse display of talent.

Review: Cortese and co wow sold-out Mareel

Singer and fiddle player Laura Cortese was joined by fellow fiddle player Jenna Moynihan, cellist Valerie Thompson and double bass player Jeni Magana. Photos: Steven Johnson, web: www.stevenjohnsonfoto.com All the way from Massachusetts, and fresh from a slot at the Orkney Folk Festival at the weekend, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards showed not one bit of fatigue as they wowed a sell-out crowd at Mareel on Tuesday night, writes Patrick Mainland.

Among the Lerwick audience were many who had seen them play here just last year at our very own folk festival, and they sat eagerly in anticipation of the night to come.

Risky but rewarding madrigals concert

The Dunedin Consort madrigals during rehearsals prior to their Friday night concert at Mareel. Photo: Jenny Leask.

SHETLAND Arts’ unconventional 2016/17 classical season ended on Friday night in Mareel, with a concert of Baroque-era madrigals that was just as unusual, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

The Dunedin Consort presented Love’s Fire; Love’s Ashes, a programme of 14 madrigals by groundbreaking Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, coinciding with the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The critically-acclaimed ensemble, fronted by director Nicholas Mulroy, were “delighted” to be in Shetland for the first time.

Jack changes pace on soulful new EP

Edinburgh-based islander Jack Sandison.JACK Sandison is definitely a glass-half-full kind of guy, writes Patrick Mainland: “As a songwriter, I believe in positive music. Even the darkest lament will have positive intent somewhere.” 

On the four-song EP Dark Horse, that positivity doesn’t reach out and grab you like the feel-good blues grooves of his work with The Holy Ghosts; instead, it flows, a subtle presence in an intriguing set of tunes.

Review: 'magnificent' ensemble's risk pays off

Musical ensemble Mr McFall's Chamber's risk paid off at Mareel on Saturday night. Photo: Shetland News/Alex Garrick-Wright.

It can’t be easy to plan a classical concert. Play it too safe, and the performance might fail to be memorable; make it too ‘out there’, and you risk alienating the audience.

Mr McFall’s Chamber took a risk with a programme of relatively modern Baltic tunes and Finnish Tango when they took to the stage at Mareel in Lerwick on Saturday: one that was well worth it.

Review: engrossing play about family, mortality and reconciliation

Aging retiree Norman (played by Andy Long) with his dutiful wife Ethel (Christine Geldard) - Photos: Austin TaylorIF YOU concentrated hard enough, there were a number of moments at the Garrison Theatre in Lerwick on Tuesday night when it felt as if you had been transported to northeast America.

The Islesburgh Drama Group's latest production On Golden Pond, set in a country house in Maine, New England, saw the American accents rolled out in force; a potentially perilous minefield, but it was at times wholly convincing.

Review: a concert not for the lighthearted

SHETLAND Arts' 2016/17 classical season has, so far, been bold and uncompromising, with Shetland-born virtuoso Neil Georgeson at the helm of a series of characteristically unorthodox concerts. Saturday night saw the critically acclaimed Hebrides Ensemble take to the stage to put their own mark on the season, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

'Not wholly enjoyable, but entirely brilliant'

Neil Georgeson performing at Mareel."The music looks unusual. You'll be hearing unusual sounds. I'll be using a fiddle bow, paperclips and a chisel."

Music fans turned out in force on Thursday night to see the last of Neil's performances as part of the 2016/17 classical season; packing out the auditorium for a concert that promised to marry sound and image in new and exciting ways. They had little idea what they were in for - Pictures was a mind-bending bit of experimental art, and an unforgettable experience.

Grammy nominee Jarosz shows her class

Multiple Grammy nominee Sarah Jarosz during Sunday night's sell-out show at Mareel. Photo: Dale SmithAMERICANA songstress and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, who is nominated for four Grammy Awards in LA next month, put on a sold-out show at Mareel on Sunday night. 

Review: a celebration of island life

Artist Vivian Ross-Smith making island connections at her Bonhoga exhibition - Photos: Alex Garrick-WrightHaving grown up in Fair Isle, local artist Vivian Ross-Smith has always been fascinated by islands and their residents. Her new exhibition, Island Connections, is an ode to island life, and a celebration of the "island mentality", writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

Outstanding playing at pre-festive trad gigs

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, including Kevin Henderson (centre), again proved a class act at the Carnegie Hall in Sandwick on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Dale SmithKEVIN Henderson’s pan-Scandinavian group Nordic Fiddlers Bloc were joined by Catriona McKay and Chris Stout for a trio of intimate concerts at the weekend.

Carrying on the mantle of his late father Davie Henderson’s “peerie Christmas sprees”, Kevin and bandmates Anders Hall and Olav Luksengard Mielva treated audiences to classy performances at the Shetland Museum in Lerwick on Friday, Muckle Roe Hall on Saturday and then Sandwick’s Carnegie Hall on Sunday afternoon.

Review: Thoughtful & beautiful documentary

Knitwear designer Mati Ventrillon. Image courtesy of BBC Scotland.JUST five months after moving to Fair Isle in search of the good life, Shaun and Rachel, a young couple from Lincolnshire, are preparing to face their first winter on the island, writes Jordan Ogg.

It’s not looking good. They’ve spent their entire life savings getting here and now they’re struggling to manage the cost of keeping the house warm and the sheep fed.

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