Arts / Radiohead drummer among packed line-up for Mareel gig

Philip Selway will be joined the bill by Cardigans singer Nina Persson, organiser James Yorkston, Rachel Sermanni and Marjolein Robertson

“THEY’RE like great little buddy trips, basically,” says musician James Yorkston about his Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer touring show, which is due to head back to Shetland next month. “It’s just like a tiny wee holiday with your pals.”

It is fair to say the list of pals this time around, who will perform at Mareel in Lerwick on 17 February, is fairly impressive.

Topping the bill will be Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, who has carved out a respected side career as a singer-songwriter.

Radiohead’s Philip Selway.

He will be joined at the gig by Rachel Sermanni, who is already well known to Shetland audiences, while local comedian and storyteller Marjolein Robertson is also on the line-up.

Not only that, but Yorkston will perform too – and alongside the Cardigans singer Nina Persson, who have collaborated together on a new album. After the barren Covid years, it feels like a bonanza of a bill.


The premise behind the Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer project, which began life in 2015 based in Kirkcaldy, is fairly simple. Yorkston brings together a cast of musicians and performers, and takes them out on tour, with a new line-up for each edition.

In the last year the show has visited Mareel twice, bringing acts like Kathryn Joseph and Josie Long to Shetland, and February’s line-up will also visit Inverness, Peebles and St Andrews.

Speaking to Shetland News ahead of the Mareel gig, folk musician Yorkston – who himself has a distinguished back catalogue under his belt, mainly via Domino Records – said everyone on his bills are “people who I want to see”.

He admits he gets to be a “bit selfish” – as long as the budget, which is backed by funding from Creative Scotland, allows.

“I’ve been doing these Tae Sups for years now. The first thing you have to do really is to get somebody who’s going to attract some punters. That’s the main thing,” Yorkston explained.

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James Yorkston and Nina Persson. Photo: Anna Drvnik

“And then it’s easy – once you’ve got the big name, then it becomes a lot easier.

“There’s so many great acts out there who perhaps wouldn’t fill a venue like Mareel by themselves, but are amazing musicians.”

The top name this time around is Selway, best known for lording the drum throne in indie demi-gods Radiohead.

He released his debut album Familial in 2010, which drew comparisons to acts like Nick Drake, and his third is due to land in February.

The Shetland audience should not expect any Radiohead tunes to grace Mareel on the night, though. “I’ve never heard him venture into his more famous band…it would be a wee bit weird if he was just up on stage playing a drum only version of a Radiohead song,” Yorkston laughs.


“He’s a really good songwriter with a very sweet voice. He’s got a good stage presence.

“Obviously his name is from Radiohead – that’s how most people know him – but he started off as a guitar player. He only began playing drums because Radiohead needed a drummer, so he took on the role.”

Rachel Sermanni. Photo: Gaelle Beri

Elsewhere on the bill acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni has already racked up numerous trips to Shetland.

Yorkston described her as a “tremendous musician” who has played some “drop dead gorgeous” sets.

Marjolein Robertson, meanwhile, will allow the gig to divert away from music. Yorkston picked her for the bill following a recommendation, and from his point of view it is pretty good timing – with the Shetlander coming off the back of reaching the BBC New Comedy Awards final.


A late addition to the line-up is Cardigans singer Nina Persson, who is said to have jumped at the chance to visit Shetland and other less-travelled parts of Scotland.

She has teamed up with Yorkston and the Second Hand Orchestra to create the album The Great White Sea Eagle, which will be released next week.

“She said ‘I would love to go over to Shetland’,” Yorkston said.

Marjolein Robertson. Photo: John Carolan

“I looked at the budget, and there’s just enough left to get her over. She’s coming, and the main reason is because she wanted to come to Shetland.”

The audience may even be lucky enough to hear Yorkston, Selway and Persson collaborate on the night if the stars align.


“The whole vibe about it is that we’re very lucky to be musicians,” Yorkston said about the Tae Sup tours.

“We’re lucky enough to be able to make a living out of doing music, or poetry, storytelling.

“I just want the musicians to enjoy themselves. I think if they’re enjoying the trip – if everything is relaxed backstage, if the journeys and the hotel is relaxed, then that carries onto the stage, and the audience picks up on that. They can be beautiful events.”

Tickets for February’s Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer gig at Mareel on 17 February can be bought online.

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