‘Magnificent seven’ at Mareel (Douglas Young)

Everything about The Revellers is a conundrum, from their CD The Renegades to their billing as support to Big Country.

Let’s get Big Country out of the way first because keeping the crowd waiting 25 minutes after the thermometer-busting “warm up” band, playing your big track twice in the same set and sprooting a mouthful of water over the audience is not big. If the audience did this back they’d be ejected. It is very average-sized and cranking up the volume did not help. You nearly got away with the 20 Shetland mentions until the last one, “The Shetlands”. Ouch!

Don’t buy the Shetland band’s CD and judge these musicians by the poor production and dull sound emanating from your speakers because the one thing Mareel has got is a good pair, albeit they cost £13million, and The Revellers deserve nothing less to show off their talent. And what a talent. The dynamic,clear, incisive music did not transfer to the recording but when the clock hit 8pm and the first chords flowed out into the bar the people flowed into the hall.

There are overtures of one of the UK’s best rock bands here, ELO, with sublime tightness of strings, guitars and drums welded into soaring crescendos, tempo changes and timing perfection. I’m not suggesting the drummer’s hair and whiskers are the same as Jim Henson’s Animal but the kit gets hammered with the same enthusiasm, with skills akin to Keith Moon. The guitars, well chuck Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler on stage and these guys are not far behind. The banjo players make it look so easy – it isn’t – and fun. Roll Over Beethoven has fast, electric fiddles, we got that here too.

Just when you think it can’t get any faster, any tighter, the climax of the tune must have been reached they kick the tempo into the roof and then spang in the air. Just like The Who. And never miss a beat. If Jeff Lynne could get hold of you guys…

If you’re going to be a warm-up band don’t do it in Shetland, you’re the headliners now. You only had to hear the praise after the show. Go south to bigger venues if you want to play second fiddle. Your ticket prices will need to reflect your talents to make sure the untapped market realise they’re getting something a cut above the rest. I’d pay £20 to see you as top billing. Six months later you’d get my £25.

We were thanked for coming into the set early on. We were thanked for our applause. But the thanks should be from us for a stunning performance of seven musicians who are near the top of their game. And enjoying what they do. To get any higher we come back to that conundrum. How big do you want to become? Now, where’s Jeff Lynne’s number?

Douglas Young



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