By MIRIAM BRETT
AFTER five days of hard work, Saturday saw the last of the evening concerts for Fiddle Frenzy 2008. Headlining at the Garrison Theatre on Saturday night was well-known local band Drop the Box.
The night started with the students of Fiddle Frenzy performing a few of the tunes they had been taught throughout the week. Led by Margaret Scollay, the group of 60 students from all over the world played a few familiar Shetland sets. Considering the short amount of time the students had been given to learn these tunes, they sounded clear and very well rehearsed.
Second to play were Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag who played a mix of Scandinavian and Shetland sets of tunes. After a bit of a slow start, Fullsceilidh were in full flow and the audience were captured by their impressive sound, their ability to play at a remarkable speed and, of course, by Maurice Henderson’s usual tales and jokes.
Given that one of their fiddle players, Mark Laurenson, lives in Norway and another fiddler could not make it that night, Fullsceilidh played exceptionally well indeed. Their lively, energetic sound was reflected with rapturous applause from the audience. The headlining act for the evening, Drop the Box, were most certainly worth the wait. As soon as they began, you could tell that this was a very professional band. Their songs were unbelievably well put together. Their arrangements are complicated in that they do not all stick to the melody line as is so common in bands you see today, but each instrument seems to flow independently into their own piece, giving Drop the Box a layered sound.
Every instrument fitted together so well together that you could not help but pick up on their stunning, tight arrangements. I felt that this was reflected most in the song On the Wings o’ a Scorie.
One aspect of Drop the Box that stood out was their excellent ability to interact. Not only did they communicate regularly with the audience but they also communicated well as a band. I feel this is very important in a group when performing as it makes the audience more relaxed and they will, therefore, enjoy the concert more.
They also come across as a band who works well together as a whole. The group also use a huge range of instruments when performing. One example of this was the melodica, this added an amazing touch to the songs played.
Drop the Box showed of their talent when they played a few of their own tunes. The audience were told that one of their biggest influences is Van Morrison. However, fiddler Laurenson was star of the show on Saturday. Not only did he play in Fullscelidh, but he was also the fiddler in Drop the Box.
The fiddle adds a unique quality to this very individual band that separates it from all the others. Unlike other bands, the fiddle did not take the lead role and was not even particularly loud. Yet it added something extra to the group. The vocals and fiddle combined to create beautiful melody lines and left the audience mesmerised.
After a stunning performance, Drop the Box was given an encore from the very enthusiastic audience. They chose to play a tune they wrote while staying in Aberdeen about missing home, Edge of the World.
They could not have picked a better song to end the concert. It showed off everything that this very talented, fresh band holds. It was beautiful and completely unique to Drop the Box. Not only do they write their own songs, but they take well known Shetland sets and make them very much their own. Although they stray away from traditional Shetland music, they keep their roots at home. We should be extremely proud that we boast such a wide range of talented musicians. Fiddle Frenzy 2008 really showed off Shetland’s talent.