Monday 15 April 2024
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Arts / A musical feast awaits at the Tall Ships

THE LERWICK Tall Ships is here – and that means the four-day feast of live music is about to begin.

There is pretty much something for everyone from Wednesday to Saturday, from traditional tunes to rowdy rock and metal, classic covers to country.

The four visiting headliners playing at Holmsgarth will get much of the attention but there is a veritable smorgasbord of local talent too ready to capture the imagination.

Rehearsal rooms have been busy for weeks as acts hone their sets, and tickets for the sold-out evening gigs at Holmsgarth on Thursday, Friday and Saturday remain highly sought after.

There is also a smaller stage planned outside the RBS, whilst outwith the Tall Ships pubs like the Lounge and the Thule will also be hosting live music.

With the musical jamboree kicking off at 11am today (Wednesday) Shetland News is previewing some of the visiting acts, and some of the local ones too.


Peatbog Faeries.

Who: Peatbog Faeries

What? A leading light in Scottish contemporary folk scene, with hi-jinx instrumental tunes drawing people to the dancefloor

Where and when? 10.30pm at Holmsgarth on Wednesday

How excited are you to be topping the bill on the first night of the Tall Ships? “The band are really looking forward to playing the Tall Ships. Getting the chance to play to not just a Shetland audience but a multi-cultural one in a fantastic setting is just too good to miss.”

You’ve now got a second Shetland member alongside fiddler Ross Couper – Norman Willmore on saxophone and keyboards. How strong does the Shetland connection feel in the band? “We’re are technically more of a Shetland band now! Both Norman and Ross had a big part to play in the writing of our new album and live they both get the chance to show their phenomenal talent.”

What else is new in the world of Peatbog Faeries since you last played in Shetland? “We have three new members in the band – Innes Watson (guitar, fiddle and vocals), Norman on keys and sax and Stu Brown on drums and electronics. We’re just about to release our new studio album ‘I See a World’ on the 4 August. There has been two singles released from the album so far. One of which is the band’s first song written by guitarist Tom Salter. It’s called ‘Sister of Moses”. The band continues to play and tour extensively.”


Who: The Revellers

What? Sure to get a party started, the group are one of Shetland’s premier rock bands – but with a traditional edge

Where and when? 9.20pm at Holmsgarth on Wednesday

They say: “To be involved, and to be asked…we’re grateful to be part of it. It was a really memorable gig for us last time, and should be a great night.

“Our set is nearly all our own songs, and will include some new material too, and hope the weather plays ball, and there’s a good turn out, and everybody has a great night.” (Magnus Bradley, vocals/guitar)


One of Scotland’s most prominent young rock bands, Tide Lines, are the headline attraction for the Thursday night.

Who: Tide Lines

What? The Highland based group juggle folk, pop and rock and have copped comparisons to Runrig

Where and when? 10.25pm at Holmsgarth on Thursday

What can people expect from your headline performance on the Thursday night? “An energetic and upbeat set of mainly original songs with choruses that are easy to pick up so that everyone can sing along whether they’ve heard us before or not.”

Just over seven years ago Tide Lines released their first song – and since then you’ve had a number one album in Scotland. What’s the secret to your success? “We’re very lucky to have a really loyal fanbase who support us in everything we do and shout about it from the rooftops. They’re definitely the secret. Our first Scottish number one was during lockdown where we appreciated them more than ever. Our second was just last May. It was incredible to be out on tour in the UK when the record was released and be able to celebrate live with our fans when the chart was announced on the Friday and we were #1 in Scotland and #13 in the UK!”

You hail from the Highlands; how important is it for music in the Highlands and Islands to be supported and allowed to flourish? “We think it’s vital. The Tide Lines sound is forged from lots of different genres and influences but the Highland music we were brought up with is pretty central to what we do. It’s such a rich musical culture and a huge part of who we are so it absolutely has to be supported to ensure it survives and continues to flourish.”


An image from Laeverick’s album artwork.

Who: Laeverick

What? Three-part harmonies and Americana vibes are key for the ensemble, whose members are based both in Shetland and Orkney

Where and when? 5.15pm at Victoria Pier on Thursday

They say: “Laeverick are really looking forward to getting tagidder again to perform at this year’s Tall Ships event – the first major event we’ve performed at since launching our album and playing the Clickimin at this year’s Shetland Folk Festival.

“We played at the last Tall Ships too and despite it being a bit cold (okay, very cold!) the vibe around the town was amazing – so we canna wait to be part of the event once again, 12 years later.

“We’ll be singing mostly our own material with Americana flavours and three part harmonies continuing to be at the absolute core of our sound…and maybe a bit of friendly Burra banter too!” (Mhari McLeman, vocals)


Peat & Diesel will top the Holmsgarth bill on the Friday night, with other performers including Shetland covers band favourites First Foot Soldiers.

Who: Peat and Diesel

What? Possibly the most talked about act of the Tall Ships, the Stornoway trio mix guitar, drums and accordion and play up island life – such as on their last album Light My Byre

Where and when? 10.25pm at Holmsgarth on Friday

How does it feel to be playing in Shetland for the first time? “The band are delighted to be coming up to Shetland at last, it’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time but it never quite fitted into our schedules. It’s clear to see from the sold out show people are delighted that Peatlemania is coming north too!”

For someone who hasn’t heard Peat and Diesel before, how would you describe your sound? “It’s a mix between trad music and punk which we’ve tagged now as ‘folk punk’. I don’t really think we can fit into one genre as we bring something very unique to the stage that no other band has and we really feed from a lively crowd.”

What will you bring to the Tall Ships Lerwick stage that other bands won’t? “With a sold out crowd behind us you can expect a very energetic show from us and one the crowd will lap up and join along with us lighting up the Tall Ships stage and arena. We’re really buzzing to show everyone just how we do it in the Western Isles!”


Husfu. Photo: Sophie Whitehead-Robertson

Who: Husfu

What? The new Shetland act is led by Lisa Ward – who once appeared on BBC’s The Voice – and they promise a diverse set, with flavours of rock, metal and disco

Where and when? 7.15pm at Holmsgarth on Friday

They say: “Tim [Matthew, music programmer] has done an excellent job bringing together such a diverse and interesting collection of both local and visiting musicians into a cohesive line-up. It’s a rare chance to see the sheer breadth of music and creativity that Shetland has to offer, all at one event.

“Husfu has spent this last year working every spare minute working on our debut album Community (and other words that start with sea). We’d hoped to have it ready in time for the Tall Ships, but, because we’ve been recording and producing it ourselves on top of full-time jobs, it’s just not been possible.

“Folk have been asking what we sound like and my answer is generally: come see us, and find out! But if I’m obliged to describe our sound then I’ll say: there’s more than a little genre-bending, but primarily we make pop, with a dollop of rock, a sprinkling of metal, and just a dusting of disco. We’re calling it squid-core. We’ll be hanging out at the merch table before and after our set, so come and have a chat and grab yourself a jellyfish sticker before they disappear!” (Lisa Ward, vocals/guitar/synth)


Who: Queen II

What? The Queen tribute band have played in Shetland a couple of times before and have racked up a reputation for honouring Freddie Mercury and co. in style

Where and when? 10.05pm at Holmsgarth on Saturday

What makes the music of Queen special? “Queen were four fantastic musicians who were all strong song writers and all had different genres they enjoyed so you have this melting pot of influences in the music which gives it a variety that is rarely seen even today.”

How did the idea of Queen II first come about? “Four Queen fans who loved playing live music decided that we’d really enjoy playing the Queen songs live and so we went for it. 10 years later, here we are!”

Will you be out doing much sightseeing around Shetland during your time here? “I’m sure there will be time to have a look round the island we have played here a few times and love it. The people here are warm and friendly and we’re very excited to be coming back.”



Who: Herkja

What? The Shetland quartet mix layered harmonies with contemporary and traditional folk

Where and when? 8.45pm at Victoria Pier on Saturday

They say: “We are so excited to be back performing together after our Celtic Connections debut. It will be brilliant to see such an eclectic mix of performers over a jam packed weekend and to see the toon bustling again with the variety of ships and visitors.

“Our set is going to include some earlier material of ours as well as some music we created as part of a project through Shetland Arts which was called ‘The Caald Nights o’ Winter’.”:

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