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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.

Review: unorthodox to the last note

Pianist Neil Georgeson and soprano Anna Dennis offered music new and old, conventional and unconventionalMaintaining a balance between comfortably familiar and the challengingly unorthodox can be quite tricky to pull off in a classical concert. However, this is a trick that Life Story pulled off with aplomb for an eager Mareel audience on Thursday night, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

BBC's Fair Isle documentary: a fine balance of emotional and environmental extremes

Monday night saw the screening of the first episode of BBC1 Scotland's Fair Isle documentary. Image courtesy of BBC.HOW LONG should you wait before moving in together? It’s a question all couples face when they cruise into the ‘going steady’ zone, writes Jordan Ogg.

Six months to a year is the general consensus amongst online advice columnists. But what if you’re relocating to the UK's most remote inhabited island to run a croft that you have absolutely no experience or qualifications for? Here the advice is, well, non-existent.

Fond memories of the Bobby the birdman

Renowned field ornithologist Bobby Tulloch. Photo: Gunnie MobergONE OF Shetland's "greatest-ever ambassadors" is being celebrated in a new anthology published at the weekend. Bobby the Birdman is not an analytical biography of the islands' most famous birdwatcher, Bobby Tulloch, but a series of entertaining personal reminisces from people who were lucky enough to have known and worked with him.

Wordplay: A different take on literature

A comic creation workshop is just the sort of new and open approach to literature that Wordplay should be about, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

Comic Creation with Edward Ross, held at Lerwick's Mareel on Thursday, invited locals of any and all levels of ability or interest in comics to come along and try their hand, under the guidance of Edinburgh-based comic artist Edward Ross.

Ross freely admitted that he would never have pegged himself as a comic writer. While he dabbled in comics as a teenager (both reading and drawing them) he had fully intended to be a filmmaker.

Scots Makar Jackie Kay opens Wordplay

Scots Makar Jackie Kay: warm, witty, friendly, captivating, sensitive, funny, moving -  Photo: Dale SmithWARM, witty, friendly, captivating, sensitive, funny, moving. These are some of the words I jotted down trying to describe Wednesday night's talk by Scots Makar, Jackie Kay.

Appointed national poet for Scotland in March of this year, Kay's event opened the Wordplay 2016 festival, and a better opening it would have been difficult to find.

Flit: big, bold and breathtaking

A thought-provoking and stimulating show: Flit during the soundcheck on Wednesday - Photo: Shetland ArtsSTANDING on stage at Mareel on Wednesday night was an all-star cast of musicians from big-hitters Portishead, Mogwai, Lau and The Unthanks, as well as singer Adam Holmes, writes Chris Cope.

Flit, however, felt a sum of all its parts, with the quintet melting together seamlessly to magic up a musical journey as enveloping and progressive as Shetland has ever seen.

High energy comedy at Clickimin

Comedian Russell Kane at the Clickimin on Wednesday night: 'jolting and thrusting in entertaining style' -Photo: Davie GardnerSHETLAND is in the midst of a purple patch when it comes to visits from comedians - and long may it continue, writes Chris Cope.

Seann Walsh and Mark Simmons broke out the belly laughs in September, while Mark Steel is returning in November - and let's not forget about the likes of Ross Noble and Dylan Moran who have visited in recent years.

The latest comedian to head up north was Russell Kane, perhaps best known for appearing on the telly on shows like Live At The Apollo and Celebrity Juice.

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