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Cleeves talk ‘enjoyable but slightly unfocused’

Ann Cleeves signed copies of her new book Cold Earth out in the Mareel foyer. Photo: Davie GardnerA BOOK launch is usually a straightforward affair: the author reads some extracts and talks a little about the book to entice people to buy it. However, when that book is Ann Cleeves' new Shetland-based murder novel, and to discuss the plot risks spoiling the enjoyment of unravelling the mystery, what's to be done?

Review: Welcome home, Neil!

Shetland born pianist Neil Georgsson at Mareel - Photo: Shetland ArtsIt's been four years since Neil Georgeson played to a Shetland audience, on the then new stage of Mareel's auditorium. On Thursday night, the prodigal son returned to an enthusiastic reception, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

The seats were packed with eager fans, all clamouring to hear one of the isles' most talented musicians play his home turf once again. He did not disappoint.

Review: Eloquent songs exquisitely sung

One of Yorkshire's very finest, Richard Hawley, on stage at Mareel on Tuesday night. Photo: Shetnews/Kelly Nicolson RiddellWITH Shetland possessing its own distinct musical tradition, Richard Hawley confessed towards the end of his Mareel gig that he’d feared it’d be “a bit like selling fridges to eskimos”. On this evidence, if Hawley had been the salesman there’d be a bunch of igloos with electrical cooling appliances in them by now.

Tuesday night’s rapturously received show – part of the tenth anniversary of Shetland Arts’ thriving film festival Screenplay – can safely be added to a bulging catalogue of memorable nights in the North Ness auditorium.

REVIEW: Tunstall a class act at Clickimin

KT Tunstall was in great voice in Lerwick on Tuesday night. Photo: Shetnews/Kelly Nicolson RiddellAS  SOON as KT Tunstall bounded on stage just after 9pm and started nattering away to the Clickimin audience like they were old pals, there was no doubt we were in for a feel-good night in the company of a class act.

Islanders snapped up tickets for the show back in May so rapidly that it was upgraded from Mareel to a bigger room across town.

Review: Marjolein's festival gig shows 'confidence way beyond her years'

Marjolein Robertson has been performing as part of the PBH Free Fringe in Edinburgh this month.AS FAR as Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows go, there won't be many comedians that have to deal with a guide dog being hit on the head by a fiddle midway through her set, writes Alan Donald.

But Shetlander Marjolein Robertson handles it with the professionalism of a comedian with many years experience below her belt – by cutting a deal to pet the dog at the end of the show.

Marjolein touts herself as "the UK's second most Northerly comedian" which ticked a number of boxes for this exiled reviewer...the main one being having never seen a Shetland-based comedian performing at the festival which, for the month of August, takes over the city he calls home.

Fantastic way to round off Fiddle Frenzy

From left: bassist Graham Malcolmson, singers Sheila Duncan and Freda Leask, mandolinist Lewie Peterson and fiddler Lois Nicol around a single mic at Mareel on Saturday evening. Photo: Dale SmithAFTER a week of hectic workshops, sessions, tours and shows, another Fiddle Frenzy came to a satisfying and spirited conclusion with the slightly awkwardly-named Frenzy Sessions, Frenzy Students and Jodie Smith show in Mareel on Saturday night.

'Fantastic' songwriter Peters shines at Mareel

Gretchen Peters, accompanied by husband and musical partner Barry Walsh, at a busy Mareel on Tuesday night. Photo: Kelly Nicolson RiddellMAREEL provided the setting for another superb evening of music with a performance from American singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters on Tuesday night, writes Louise Thomason.

The Grammy-nominated folk/country/Americana star was accompanied by partner Barry Walsh on piano and accordion for a set of beautifully vivid songs.

Perfect way to end successful residency

Scottish Ensemble at Mareel on Saturday night: 'playing was skilled, impeccably synchronised, and musically flawless' - Photo: Chris BrownEIGHT months, three concerts, one play, several workshops, some jam sessions, one night of cooking in the Carnegie Hall and a pop-up gig in Tesco later, and here we are.

En Rêve - the final concert of both the Scottish Ensemble's Shetland Season and their four-day residency. So, after all this build up, did the ensemble manage to end on a high?

Maconie's conversational style impresses

WHEN Stuart Maconie set out to promote his latest book, The Pie At Night, he fully realised that a standard book-reading tour, where the audience sits and watches the author read passages from their own work, can be a little dull, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

So Stuart began to add anecdotes and jokes. Over time, this side of the show grew and grew, and by the time he came to Mareel on Saturday night, the show had become something very unusual indeed.

Sublime stuff from The Unthanks at Mareel

BBC Folk Award winners The Unthanks juxtaposed beautiful melodies and gritty subject matter to enchanting effect. Photo: Kelly Nicolson RiddellTHE UNTHANK sisters and their backing band delivered an enchanting evening of top drawer, adventurous folk music before a bustling Mareel auditorium on Thursday.

A 250-plus turnout – at the start of a weekend when a fair few folkies are off to the Orkney festival – certainly goes some way to dispelling any notion that there’s no audience for English folk music in these parts.

There might be a heavenly, ethereal feel to their vocal performance, but the down-to-earth patois of the Gateshead siblings and their band saw the crowd immediately warm to the quintet.

An excellent evening of classical music

Violinist Cheryl Crockett and cellist Alison Lawrance during rehearsals on Thursday afternoon - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNewsThe Scottish Ensemble graced Mareel's stage once again for the third part of their Shetland Series - Duos for Violin and Cello - on Thursday night, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

The previous show Quintets was comprised entirely of three long compositions.

Duos for Violin and Cello was a musical anthology of shorter pieces that worked very well.

Shetland’s tribute to Hank Williams

Singer-songwriter Dean Owens and an extensive cast of local musicians paying tribute to country icon Hank Williams.SCOTTISH singer-songwriter Dean Owens and local music promoter Davie Gardner paid tribute to country icon Hank Williams alongside a slew of Shetland stars this weekend.

Following a concept developed by Gardner and put into action by Owens, the 'Settin' the Woods on Fire: The Songs of Hank Williams' show hit the stage at the Mid Yell Hall on Friday before playing at Mareel on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Hey BBC, more Shetland please…and soon

 Three deaths, another rape, extortion and money laundering. That’s a lot for any detective to deal with. Anna Chancellor as senior procurator fiscal Phyllis Brennan, Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez and Julie Graham as Shetland procurator fiscal Rhona Kelly - Photo: Mark Mainz/ITV StudiosHAVING left audiences waiting two weeks for the grand finale of BBC TV series Shetland, it was a case of bringing it all back home for the big reveal, writes Jordan Ogg.

A slimy lawyer in service to a brutal Glasgow big man. A dodgy senior cop who might be covering for her rapist son. Three deaths, another rape, extortion and money laundering.

Scottish Ensemble: Carnegie Hall next

Scottish Ensemble - the kind of talent that normally skips over places like Shetland - Photo: Chris BrownThe Scottish Ensemble returned to the Mareel Auditorium on Friday night to bring us the second of their three shows in the 2015/16 Shetland Season, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

Extraordinary tales from high in the Alps

Jeff Merrifield contributing to the Institute of the Mythology of Humankind.The Might of the Myth, the new book released this week by veteran music promoter Jeff Merrifield, is by his own admission a 73-years-in-the-making magnum opus. Better known in Shetland for his JAWS work than for his fortean writing, Alex Garrick-Wright went along to the launch on Wednesday night to gain a little insight into the book.

The Might of the Myth is the culmination of decades of interest and experience, a journey first started by Merrifield and his friend Ken Campbell, the late actor and theatrical experimentalist, in the mid-1990s.

Review: Happy end at the Town Hall

Saturday Night at the Movies with Veev - Photo: Iain TullochMUSIC has been an integral part of films since the silent era, when some poor soul would be employed to tickle the ivories as Buster Keaton performed Health-and-Safety defying stunts and Lon Chaney frightened people out of the theatre. Once it became possible to include sound in the films themselves, music became one of the most important aspects of the silver screen experience.

A night of great craic with songwriting trio

Johnny Lynch (aka Pictish Trail), James Yorkston and Dan Willson (aka Withered Hand) offered much jocularity at Mareel on Wednesday night. WHEN Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail, sang “Playing to literally tens of people… just to cover my travel home”, it raised a fair old chuckle among the few dozen folk in the Mareel auditorium.

The line belongs to ‘Believe Me, I Know’, one of several superb pop songs Lynch sang in the course of a cockle-warming set as part of a loose, informal songwriter’s semi-circle.

American comic draws buckets of laughter

Rich Hall, right, joined by guitarist Rob Childs at Mareel on Tuesday night. Photo: Davie GardnerSEASONED US comedian Rich Hall sent the masses home happy after delivering a two-hour country-comedy cocktail blending together observation, anecdote and musical song on Tuesday night.

The Mareel auditorium was packed for the 61-year-old’s maiden visit having sold out long before the festive period.

Reviews: Shetland's new favourite band

The Lone Bellow - a triumphant cocktail of unashamed melody, succulent harmonies and driving rhythms."Thank you Shelby Islands,” rallied The Lone Bellow's lead singer Zach Williams at the finale of their gig at Lerwick's Mareel on Thursday.

The sold-out audience looked perplexed, faces gurned inwards; Shelby - where'd he get that from?

Review: ‘Shetland’ picks up its pace at last

‘Shetland’ may just be fitting into an identity of its own: fellow cops Tosh (Alison O’Donnell) and Shetland-born Steven Robertson who plays Sandy - Photo: BBCThe murder-mystery series based on the novels by Anne Cleeves is back for a third outing. Episode one suggests a darker, faster and altogether more thrilling ride than its predecessors, writes Jordan Ogg.

We last saw Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez atop a cliff on Fair Isle.

Christmas comes early to the Click

The sounds of Christ and Christmas at the Clickimin, courtesy of Ernie Haase (far left) and his Signature Sound sidekicks (from left) Devin McGlamery, Dustin Doyle and Paul Harkey. Photo Malcolm Younger/Millgaet MediaThe calendar may have only just broken into December, but there was tangible Christmas spirit swirling inside Lerwick's busy Clickimin Leisure Complex on Tuesday night, as Chris Cope discovered.

There were no trees, baubles or fairy lights - the festivities were on stage thanks to the bellowing vocal cords of Ernie Haase + Signature Sound.

Hirda: a warm and delightful ode to Shetland

A scene from Thursday night's performance of Hirda: Mezzosoprano Laura Smith (as Vaila) with Marie Breen (as the Ghost) - Photo: Davie GardnerTHERE exists in this world an opera, set in Shetland and sung entirely in local dialect; its name is Hirda and it is wonderful, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

There is no way to do justice to something as unusual and enjoyable as Hirda in so short a space; the amount that could be written dwarfs the amount allowed, so consider this very much a glowing review-in-brief.

A cornucopia of island cuisine at Clickimin

MC Davie Gardner watches nervously as celebrity chef tests the heat locally-grown chillies have given his spicy dahl. Photo Elizabeth Atia THE SHETLAND Food Fair 2015 kicked off in style on Friday night with a fantastic food-filled event in the main hall of the Clickimin Leisure Centre, Lerwick. Food blogger Elizabeth Atia attended to sample the wares.

The launch of this annual celebration of all things wonderful about Shetland's food and drink scene began with an inspiring speech by Elaine Jamieson of the Highlands and Islands food sector and a talk by Peter Hutchison, customer services representative of NorthLink Ferries, who, alongside Shetland Transport, are sponsoring this weekend long event.

Stalls showcasing the finest food and drinks available in Shetland have been located around the perimeter of the hall with a cookery stage run by Promote Shetland at the front.

Ryder in good spirits and rude health

A swaggering Shaun Ryder on stage at Mareel on Saturday night. Photo: Dale SmithSHAUN Ryder finally made it to Shetland on Saturday and he put on a great show with his band Black Grape at Mareel, writes Kennedy Stewart.

Having had to cancel two scheduled Lerwick performances previously, Ryder arrived in good spirits and rude health this time around.

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