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Reviews / Review: Of birds, songs and magic

Musician Tim Dalling (left) and storyteller Malcolm Green survey the Shetland skies for seabirds before setting off for their next show - Photos: Pete Bevington

A MASTER storyteller and a musical, comic wizard have descended on Shetland to complete a nationwide tour of their magical celebration of seabirds and their plight.

Accordionist Tim Dalling is well known to regularly folk festival goers as the madcap member of the Old and then the New Rope String Band.

This time he visits the isles with his friend Malcolm Green, who spent three months on an uninhabited Icelandic island with a friend more than 40 years ago accompanied only by hundreds of thousands of seabirds.

Their evening of entertainment is woven around Green’s adventures in 1969, that feature some genuinely heart warming and heart stopping moments. These the pair combine seamlessly with supernatural tales, philosophical musings, bird calls, songs and science.

It is an extraordinary performance that entranced a packed house at Da Böd, in Hillswick, on Monday night.

Green has a scientific background, but said he wanted to get beyond the science to explore the relationship between people and nature.

Malcolm Green and Tim Dalling entrance a full house at Da Bod in Hillswick

He was inspired to create Shearwater – named after a bird now extinct on these islands – after he heard about the terrible decline in seabird populations.

“I have always had this connection with seabirds and when I heard they were in crisis I thought that as a story teller I would like to create a piece that celebrates their lives and raised awareness of their plight.”

He started out working with a cello player, but was looking for a creative soul with whom to collaborate when he came across Dalling.

The pair invested a year of their lives developing the show, researching their material and perfecting their performance which has seen them spend the past three weeks touring from the south of England up through Wales and the Scottish west coast to the far north.

The show is full of humour and insight, but you can’t escape the sense of bereavement that inspired Green in the first place.

“We measure the animals and that can be very interesting, but there is something else they can teach us; they can teach us about riding more lightly on the air and perhaps they can teach us about love.”

Go and take a look for yourself.

They perform at 7.30pm on Skerries on Wednesday, at Lerwick’s TA Hall on Thursday and on Fair Isle on Friday.