“It’s been brilliant, it’s not been this busy in years” said reveller Robbie Poleson as thousands packed into Holmsgarth for the highly anticipated sold-out gig.
There were concerns earlier in the day that the weather would dampen the spirits, but luckily the rain soon dried up for thousands of partygoers who managed to get tickets for Peat & Diesel last night (Friday).
Solo artist Queen of Harps kicked off the night with hypnotic hip-hop music that set the atmosphere for the rest of the night. Anise Pearson, the person behind the music, made it down to the finalists of BBC Introducing’s Scottish Act of the Year 2023. The music got the crowd dancing early on despite the weather.
Husfu took to the stage next with a genre-bending set they like to call ‘squid-core’. This new Shetland band is led by Lisa Ward and will have their debut album coming out soon. They offered a preview of what to expect, with synth beats keeping the crowd going throughout their set.
Big Time Quell were up next and kept the audience upbeat during their performance, with energetic songs and lively music, including a rock medley of 90s classic dance songs that really got the crowd moving. Their final song came with an offer that bassist (Shetland News’s own Chris Cope) would buy a drink for everyone that sang along – which would have been expensive as plenty of people joined in.
Colleen Henderson, out partying with her husband Matthew, was excited to be there. “The atmosphere is super, the night isn’t so great with the weather (it was still raining at this point) but everyone is making the most of it and dancing along to the music – it’s great,” she said.
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By the time the final warm-up act arrived on stage, popular Shetland band First Foot Soldiers, the rain had completely cleared up which only served to liven the crowd up further. Their set was energetic and riled the crowd up with excellent covers, including Livin’ on A Prayer by Bon Jovi.
They finished up by saying it was ‘sort of’ their last song before playing a twenty-minute-long never-ending medley of songs spanning from country, to pop, to rock. It included excerpts from Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears – and so much more.
Julie Smith was with friends who’d travelled up from Edinburgh for the Tall Ships, Darren and Diana Sneddon, and they were loving the music. Diana said: “It’s been an amazing time – we came up just for the Tall Ships and it’s all been so good! This night is unlike anything I’ve seen for ages in Shetland, everyone is so welcoming and friendly.”
Before the headliners arrived, the audience were entertained by a beautiful fireworks display from Bressay, which was especially atmospheric when some of the fireworks blended with the mist and clouds overhead, giving it an ethereal glow.
In the build-up to the main event the crowd were chanting ‘Peat & Diesel’ to encourage the headliners to get on the stage. Megan Keppie, who was out with the Shetland Women’s Rugby Team described the atmosphere was ‘absolutely amazing’.
When the trio finally arrived on the stage the entire audience erupted in a deafening roar of cheering and applause, which continued throughout the entire night. The crowd were rowdy and jumping about to every single track the trio played, featuring some of their best-known songs like Island, and Brandy in the Airdh.
It was the band’s first concert in Shetland, although they said on stage they’d been hoping to come up for a long time. After the lively crowd it hopefully won’t be the last either!
Margaret Cooper, a big fan of Peat & Diesel, was especially excited to be there after missing out on tickets when they went on sale. She said: “It’s been a fantastic night. The First Foot Soldiers really set it up for them, and the atmosphere is tremendous.”
Her journey to getting a ticket started in failure, she added: “I was unfortunate as I was one of the many who got bumped out of the atrocious booking system. I got as far as having my tickets in the basket and I was chucked out.
“I went to Mareel and couldn’t get any there. I ended up with no tickets. But I was very lucky as both of my daughters had friends who got plenty of tickets, so I managed to get tickets to all three events.”
“I’m particularly grateful for my ticket to Peat & Diesel as this was the concert I was looking most forward to, and it’s really exceeded my expectations.”
Their popular track Western Isles, saw the crowd change the lyrics to “that’s the way we do it in the Shetland Isles” and most of the crowd were dancing along. There were plenty of crowdsurfers and people up on their friends’ shoulders – much to the chagrin of the bouncers who did a marvellous job at calming the chaos.
Connor Hughes was enthusiastically singing along to almost every song and said: “The atmosphere has been brilliant, Peat & Diesel were phenomenal, and you couldn’t move the crowd was so packed!”
Robbie Poleson called the night ‘perfect’, adding: “Brandy in the Airdh really got the crowd going – it’s not been this busy in years.”
While Peat & Diesel came with the intentions of showing Shetland how they do it in the Western Isles, the crowd have surely also shown them how we like to party in Shetland.