SATURDAY night’s gig at the Carnegie Hall in Sandwick was one of the very first Folk Festival shows to sell out, writes Chris Cope.
Whether that was due to its enticing line-up or the venue’s cosy capacity of just 100 people is somewhat unclear.
There was plenty of quality on the bill, with local trio North Ness Boys opening the night in assured fashion.
Their gospel inspired tunes won over any non-believers, with a harmonious, emotive a cappella rendition of Peace In The Valley sending the packed room silent in awe.
Orcadian turned honorary Shetlander Kris Drever followed, and it was a bit of a coup for the festival considering he has been busy recently touring his latest solo album If Wishes Were Horses around the UK.
It was a reflective affair, with tunes like Beads And Feathers showcasing Drever’s penchant for delivering absorbing contemporary folk, while visiting guitarist Ian Carr joined in on the fun for the majority of the set.
Things went a little more traditional as local duo Pedro & McEwan – aka fiddler Peter Gear and guitarist Ewen Thomson – ambled on stage.
Fresh from performing with Folk Festival supergroup Dwaam on Friday night, the pair ran through a dynamic set of tunes that flitted between both light and shade.
Tracks like the long-standing Gutters o Skeld impressed as the appreciative crowd truly began to hot up.
From the west of Shetland, to the west of Ireland. Emerald Isle stalwarts The Alan Kelly Gang were up next, and they pirouetted on some sanguine flute work from Steph Geremia and assured accordion playing from ringmaster Kelly himself.
Geremia was let free on the roaming Trip To Dingle, while a reel from Sligo ensured feet were truly tapping – and there was even time for a cameo from the aforementioned Drever on mandolin.
Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son were tasked with closing the night having already impressed at the festival on their first trip to Shetland, including at Lerwick’s Mareel on Thursday.
The old-time trio from Canada sprinted through a set dripping with melody, humour and theatrics to ensure that the kazoo-wielding group remained one of the weekend’s most talked-about acts.
“It’s blowing my mind that we’re here,” said banjo man Lotus Wight, with multi-instrumentalist and singer Sheesham Crow revealing that local promoter Davie Gardner had first sounded them out about playing in the isles ten years ago.
Better late than never guys, better late than never.
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