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Arts / Live music scene revels in festive season without Covid restrictions

THIS time last year Omicron was the word on everyone’s lips as festive events in Shetland were shelved amid growing Covid case numbers.

And in 2020 the festive season – usually laden with end-of-year entertainment and live music – was barren as the country dealt with a winter resurgence of Covid.

Many will remember, of course, celebrating Hogmanay that year inside the house, with no visitors – perhaps watching Shetland Arts’ virtual celebrations too.

But with Covid restrictions or guidance no longer in place on socialising the local events scene is enjoying a festive revival right now – much to the delight of not only revellers but the musicians themselves.

After the dearth of entertainment over last two years it feels like a smorgasbord of events are scheduled this time around; from ceilidh bands to crunching metal, to DJs and dance floor fillers.

One of the busiest musicians is perhaps guitarist and vocalist Arthur Nicholson. This weekend just past he performed solo at the Lounge in Lerwick, before filling out a sold-out Scalloway Hall with First Foot Soldiers the next day.

He is then off to the Gulberwick Hall on the 27th to play with another covers band, The Dead Pans.

“I’m delighted to see such a busy music schedule over the festive season,” Nicholson said.

“There’s something for all tastes – traditional, rock, acoustic, metal, country, folk…it’s all there.

Arthur Nicholson. Photo: Dale Smith.

“A number of new bands have emerged this year, so it’s good to see another cycle of the vibrant local music scene continuing.”

Among the new bands which have surfaced out of the Covid restrictions include The Poppadom Kings, who performed twice in Scalloway the weekend, and The Plonkys, a “four piece drunk cover band” who had their first public outing at the Marlex on Saturday.

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Away from the guitars, and DJs are getting a good outing on the decks this festive season too. The Electric Soup shindig at the Lerwick Legion on the 28th has already sold out – the first festive serving of the club night since 2019.

Techno collective the Basement Monkeys also have two shows in the works – the Lerwick Legion tonight (23 December) and a New Year’s Eve bash at the Thule.

Electric Soup organiser and performer Lyall Halcrow said: “We’re so excited to have Electric Soup back on this year.

“We always get a great mix of folk home from Christmas and folk living locally, so it has been a big miss socially for us these last couple of years. This December it’ll be fantastic to get together and see some old faces we haven’t seen for ages.”

The Lounge pub in Lerwick.

One venue which is hosting live music this festive period is The Lounge in Lerwick. Its next gig is the Lomond Ceilidh Band tonight, with a ‘Comic Country’ night featuring performers like Kenny Johnson and Seth Travins the night before Hogmanay.

On the other side of New Year the Plonkys will perform at the pub on 2 January.

“Live music has always been a fundamental part of The Lounge’s success,” the pub’s manager Connall Thomason said.

“This year, our Wednesday traditional music sessions, instead of only being held seasonally, we have kept going since April. 

“Going into the festive season, despite weather disruptions, we are still seeing busy evenings upstairs.

“We always try to vary our acts as much as we can reach out to different demographics.”

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