Teenage duo Megan Nisbet and Lauren Johnson were a real hit at the Shetland Roots concert at Mareel last night.
Delivering flawless harmonies, firstly as a pair, and then with the Sheila Henderson Band, the Shetland’s Got Talent winners performed a charming and impressive set of country numbers.
Nisbet, 14, (who Henderson said her guitar was older than) said it was “amazing to take part” in the evening of country music-based, local musicians.
The purity and strength of vocals from the young pair was clear from the start and their take on Nanci Griffith’s I Wish It Would Rain was superb. Earlier this year they were crowned winners of the talent competition, and you could see why.
Nisbet and 16-year-old Johnson said they were shocked to win the title and had entered it for fun.
The talent for singing runs in the family – with both their mums singing together – Nisbet’s mum singing harmony and Johnson’s singing tunes.
In May the Yell youngsters sang with Canadian band Madison Violet at the Shetland Folk Festival, and admitted they had to pinch themselves when performing with them – “that was so good, it was amazing,” said Nisbet.
The pair said they sang together during lunch breaks at school, and were clearly comfortable performing with each other on the Mareel stage.
UnstFest this summer is one of a number of gigs lined up in future.
Last night’s concert was cosy, and laid-back affair, with plenty of folk filling the auditorium and gathered around candlelit tables.
Alison Kay Ramsay, Brian Nicholson and May Gair opened the evening.
Ramsay is a gem of a lead singer and the trio played a mixture of blues, country, honky tonk and gospel.
For a three-piece, they created plenty of richness in their sound with Gair’s double bass playing and alternating bass lines anchoring the group nicely.
Nicholson showed great versatility with blues and jazz flavoured licks in equal measure.
The slow blues number, a cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s You Gotta Move, was an infectious foot-tapper and Ramsay gave it plenty of feeling in her vocal delivery.
Afterwards Ramsay said she enjoyed the performance, with Gair adding: “I think we blossom when we’re playing acoustic stuff”.
“The sound on stage and the sound in the hall is so good,” said Nicholson.
Husband and wife duo May and Mackie were billed to perform on the night, but had to pull out due to illness.
Nicholson returned with a telecaster (and a change of shirt) as part of the Sheila Henderson Band.
The four-piece played a mixture of country and blues numbers as well as some of Henderson’s original material.
Having heard Henderson perform her song Living A Lie solo, it was great to hear the song given the full-band treatment.
Henderson is a powerful singer, and although she said her voice was going towards the end, she certainly gave it plenty of gusto and the group’s rendition of Richard Thompson’s For Shame Of Doing Wrong was better than the original.
The band had plenty of banter together too and chatted between songs to the audience.
And there were a few of the crowd dancing along at the front.
Speaking to a pair of American tourists after the opening act, they said were enjoying the evening and knew a lot of the songs.
Henderson said afterwards that she had wanted to have a concert with local musicians.
“It was a great night, it has been great fun,” she said.
“It was great to get Megan and Lauren down to do it and see them playing with the band.
“The audience were great.”