They were queueing for country legend Kris Kristofferson by 5.30pm even though the Clickimin doors were only due to open at 6.45pm.
The veteran star swept into town yesterday with a pack full of poetic love songs sure to tug at the heart strings.
Not since the time people camped overnight for Williamson’s sale had a “happening” caused such a stir in town. Over 1,000 folk had come to pay homage, one woman in the queue had come out of “curiosity” and had heard he was “hirplin” a bit – but this former film star was still shining, aged 77.
His honest songs appealed to the feelings of the reserved male in that theatre they call love. And how can we forget Kristofferson’s poignant references to the drinking culture, which he gave up in 1976?
Local actor made good, Steven Robertson joyfully said it was “surreal” to be home, working on the Shetland television series and seeing Kristofferson.
Support act Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire were always going to be the coat tails of the main attraction. “Fellows hang on to your woman,” Hart told the assembled, hinting at the phenomenon to follow.Women probably outnumbered men.
The Glasgow guys reminded you of a blend of the city’s Blue Nile with touches of the Everly brothers with Crowded House thrown in. This acoustic duo contented the audience, but it was a crowd squirming in their seats for a man and most importantly his songs, that for many had been part of the emotional backdrop of their lives. He joined Hart on stage as back up for one song then went off again to the worried gaze of some.
And then there he was, all on his own, in that amphitheatre that is the main hall at Clickimin. You had to pinch yourself but here was Kris Kristofferson – still with a starry twinkle in his eye.
Guitar slung low and harmonica and holder a la Bob Dylan he effortlessly and gently rolled out the iconic songs on a lyrical red carpet of love – lost and won – to the ecstatic audience that at times couldn’t quite believe where they were and “wheeched” and applauded in recognition of one classic after another. Some songs ended sooner than expected but it didn’t matter.
His voice was not as sharp as it once was but the sheer quality and sincerity of songs of the affairs of the heart hewn from a roller-coaster life including hard living and Hollywood surmounted the vagaries of time.
He played for an hour-and-a-half joined by the boys at the end for a three part harmony gospel song. At the end the audience were clapping and foot stomping in a great hall stuffy but warm with the emotion of those present.
A woman on leaving told me she thought he was still “silver tongued”, but stopped short of “devil”. Another said “I’d cross da rod fir him!”
Kris Kristofferson is a man still at home in his songs on the road again, who would have thought the road would have led to Shetland?
Shetland Times photographer Dave Donaldson was at the gig and a selection of his photographs are available in our image gallery.