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Reviews / Peerie Spang gives bairns a Sunday to remember

Habadekuk lit up the Clickimin with a multi-coloured set.

A KEY theme of the returning Shetland Folk Festival has been reconnecting with what we have missed in the last couple of years – music, merriment and mates, writes Chris Cope.

But what about the bairns? At various points during the Covid pandemic they have been deprived of nursery, school, baby and toddler groups, birthday parties, sharing milestone moments with their family and friends…

And then there is music; the universal language fit for all ages which, at least when it comes to being played live, has largely been off radar for children.

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For some young ‘uns attending the much-missed Peerie Spang event on Sunday afternoon it will have been their first folk festival, having had their inauguration at the Shetland institution delayed by the pandemic.

After the last couple of years it was a sight to behold: hordes of jovial children – and their almost as giddy parents – revelling in the sounds and sights of musicians giving it laldy at the Clickimin, in a real life communal experience that was not seen on a screen.

Saltfishforty at the Peerie Spang.

The task of revving up the crowd at the standing event fell on Orcadian duo Saltfishforty, whose traditional tunes and witty banter have always gone down well whenever they’ve made the short trip north.

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At one point the crowd were invited to moo like a coo, and musical statues was of course a firm favourite – “some of you have played this before”, quipped fiddle player Douglas Montgomery.

The crowd were later invited to carry out movements for a tune about preparing tatties and fish – rather grisly at times for a kids’ concert, but we’ll let them off.

Finishing off the gig were the ebullient Danish collective Habadekuk, whose eight members offered up fresh energy to the stage.

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There was a polka, a waltz, a brass section, sing-alongs, sprightly dance moves – a perfect cocktail of high-jinx tomfoolery for a Sunday afternoon.

After a quick geography lesson about homeland Denmark – a place surrounded by sea, like Shetland – there was a clap-along to a drum solo, a jewel in the crown when it came to audience participation.

Maybe some of the youngsters at the Peerie Spang will in 20 years be attending one of the foys later in the night, or perhaps they’ll be in the festival line-up, instrument in hand.

But for now, let’s just enjoy the rare, shared experience the young – and old – had in what has to be one of the folk festival’s most rewarding concerts.

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