There was certainly buzz around Mareel’s cafe bar last night as the Heavy Metal Buffet team held its acoustic fundraiser ahead of this year’s Shetland rock festival in August.
With settees pushed up against the walls and folk looking on from the bar and balcony, the busy line-up of acoustic acts made it feel like the weekend had come early.
There was a real mix, from proud parents, to young rock fans and even a few blokes in suits who seemed to have happily stumbled across the evening’s entertainment.
The Revellers, with Adam Priest swapping from electric bass to a double bass, were first to perform.
Rolling drums, catchy guitar riffs, infectious banjo melodies, and strong vocals were rattled off with ease.
Priest bowed and pulled at the strings adding warmth and a different offering to the full-throttle, electric version of the group.
Drummer John-William Halcrow impressed behind the mic and you could clearly see the band were enjoying themselves.
Next up was William McCover, who admitted it was a tough act to follow, although he performed with plenty of confidence and showed some nifty guitar work, from strumming, finger picking and some nice harmonics thrown in too.
Then Emma Kennedy joined McCover on stage for a cover of Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive.
The duet was warmly received and with such a great tone to her voice, it was a shame not to see more of her.
Demon, by Trookers was one of the best songs of the night – with Chris Thomson’s rhythm guitar playing and Robert Balfour’s clean electric guitar tone, along with solid harmonies.
And, as raffles go, last night’s will take some beating, from DVDs to band merchandise, there was plenty up for grabs.
The star prize was an electric guitar with a skull and spine carved into the body by Heavy Metal Buffet member and artist Dirk Robertson.
Toni Sidgwick performed a collection of songs, with a number from her new EP, mixing gritty vocals, finger picking and percussive guitar playing.
The emotive Don’t Start This War had hints of Tracy Chapman, and Sidgwick treated the audience to a new song about nights out in Lerwick and a cheese and bean pie.
She finished with the Johnny Cash classic, Folsom Prison Blues which she put her own vocal stamp on.
Moving four-part harmonies were served up by The Matthew Adam Band, with Ewan Ellis swapping between guitar and cajon and Magnus Stout, between guitar and fiddle.
Sarah Thomson matched Adam’s voice well – with the latter showing a real soulful quality.
Fare Thee Well – known to many from the Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis pulled at the heartstrings, and seeing a group tackle the harmonies of Fleet Foxes in their rendition of Mykonos was just as impressive.
Claire Thomason, Jamie Hatch and Peter Keay from Beef Cleaver, along with Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes on djembe, performed a quirky rendition of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, as well as a fun version of Toto’s Africa which had the audience smiling along.
With “a tight squeeze” Magnus Bradley and Michael Anderson of The Revellers, and clarsach player Kirsty North joined them for two songs.
The group’s performance of Brand New Sin’s Missing You, had plenty of punch, with Thomason taking it up a gear with the lines “I miss the touch of your skin”.
The guitar riff worked well too, played by North on the clarsach, and the group soon had folk crowding around in appreciation.
Deathstar Canteen, played some of their own material, complete with hand claps, accomplished bass playing from Craig Birnie and some swing-like rhythms from drummer Mary Dimitrov.
Killing Time, a darker number in the set, saw Lisa Ward’s vocals combine well with Sarah Thomson’s.
Despite their acoustic guitars, the song showed elements of heavier rock influences.
Kevin Tulloch, gave it plenty at the end, with the Kev T Experience – launching into rock covers, Tulloch’s throaty voice and raw emotion were lapped up by the audience, singing along, and applauding loudly.
Among the songs, was Find The Real by Alter Bridge, who Tulloch dedicated to the late Neil Mort, who was a supporter of the Heavy Metal Buffet.
The Buffet 2014 is held later this summer, and, if the acoustic night is anything to go by, then I look forward to the “plugged in” version.