SHETLAND’S music scene is as strong as ever, as Patrick Mainland discovered at Mareel on Wednesday night where local music students staged a busy, but informal gig.
The night featured a wealth of talent across a wide range of musical styles from young people studying through Shetland College, many performing for the very first time.
The night opened with HNC students Lee Irvine and Brian Murphy showcasing well-worked dual guitars, with folk bluesman John Mayer’s Neon the high highlight and finishing with Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.
The classic rock theme continued with a solid rendition of The Eagles’ Hotel California by a six-piece of mainly HNC students, featuring experienced vocalist Sarah Thomson.
Next up was a traditional showcase of accordion, mandolin and acoustic guitar from Loris McDonald, Shaun Alderman and Lee Irvine with a cleverly chosen set featuring The Gale, learned from the Edinburgh Tattoo where so many Shetland traditional musicians performed during the summer.
Another highlight was Washington Square Port, which carried more of a leftfield and jazzy feel, spawning from its origins in the Harris Playfair Big Band.
A light-hearted Argentinian polka finished the group’s stellar set with Loris McDonald’s nimble-fingered accordion playing coming to the fore.
McDonald later said ‘everyone excelled themselves’ on a successful night and that the course had given everyone the chance to get involved in different styles of music.
Singer-songwriter Eve Maguire followed, with spot on harmonies from Sarah Thomson and Ewan Ellis, with a light and engaging three song performance of Vance Joy covers.
Amanda Shearer and Daniel Hawick of the BA Applied Music course played simple and effective folky bluegrass numbers, Hawick’s last tune being a deftly-fingerpicked acoustic composition of his own.
Initially Shaun Goudie looked anxious when he took the stage, but there was no need – he had a strong raspy voice which showed no nerves when his group took on Ben E. King, Bill Withers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, also featuring the debut of Peter Arthur on guitar.
The final band to play were Black Trow, a fiercely loud and heavy blues-rock quartet born out of jams in Mareel’s Green Room, with a thunderous sound which vibrated through the building’s walls.
Frontman Callum McIntosh, just like the singer before him, produced an assured performance despite it being his first time on stage, showing all the confidence of a regular. His powerful singing voice recalled English doom-rockers Orange Goblin.
Robbie Walterson joined on guitar with wah-wah Sabbath-esque soloing in the Cream classic Sunshine Of Your Love and the raging blues of Going Down.
With a tight rhythm section in Neil Adams and Shaun Strachan on bass and drums respectively, Black Trow are definitely one to watch.
Music development officer and course lecturer Bryan Peterson said it was great to see a different set of talented students join every year.
“Tonight was a seminal night for many, and its hard to believe some were playing on stage for the first time!” he exclaimed.
And hopefully it won’t be the last; with plenty of Shetland’s young musicians departing for university every year, it is reassuring to see more and more bands being formed and filling any gaps on the local gig scene.
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