Blues, funk, rock and punk were on the menu last night as isles youngsters took to the stage for this year’s Battle of the Bands competition.
Up for grabs was a recording session in Mareel and a chance to play at the Heavy Metal Buffet festival this summer.
The alcohol-free event organised by the Shetland Young Promoters Group and held in Lerwick Legion, was branded the ‘best so far” by judge Bryan Peterson who hailed the diversity of music on show.
The annual gig was an opportunity for talented youngsters to crank up the volume, tread the boards and have their music played to a wider audience.
From sparkling renditions of Nirvana, Duke Ellington and Jimi Hendrix, to self-penned songs, groovy back beats and intricate guitar harmonies the young musicians set the bar high.
Bass and acoustic guitar duo Draugon opened up the night, with their metal-inflected, driving instrumentals.
Despite the stripped down approach, their dark, rocky tones intertwined to great effect.
Judge Graeme Howell, general manager at Shetland Arts said the “band blew him away”
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he added.
A hearty portion of funk was then served up by The FB, who played their own infectious head-bopping tunes, tight rhythms and a crisp and clever version of No Diggity, where guitarist Peter Kay took the mic with gravelly vocal tones.
“Funky Dave” Varga the drummer was praised by Peterson as was the funk/jazz fusion sounds of Lewis Hall on keys.
And with Drew Garrick on trumpet the classy brass injection added to the smooth and laid-back jam vibe.
Then Blind Summit performed a scorching set of rock-based guitar covers, from the Black Keys to the Foo Fighters and The Clash’s Should I stay or Should I Go, which had the audience dancing along to the punchy guitar chords.
Led by the honey-sweet, yet powerful vocals of Rosie Richardson, the five piece were bursting with flair, with strong bass lines, screaming guitar tones and alternating guitar lines.
Solid drumming came courtesy of Eamonn Watt, who was a last minute stand-in for James Monaghan.
Toxic Flames were polished and catchy, with their self-penned songs including radio hits Time Twister and DarkScythe with the audience chanting the chorus and singing the keyboard line.
Dual pianos, bluesy bass lines and impressive vocals were next courtesy of Misbehavin’.
Joanne Tait picked up the bass guitar once more and showed the strength and soul in her voice in the tracks Sweet Home Chicago and The A Train. David Varga was again on the kit and the keyboard playing by Melody Duncan and Amy Laurenson was stylish and slick.
Last year’s winners Autopilot wowed the crowd with their punk-flavoured rock songs.
The lads clearly were enjoying themselves on stage and their tune The Islanders was a standout on their setlist.
After a difficult decision, winners of the Heavy Metal Buffet prize were The FB and Toxic Flames.
HMB’s Dirk Robertson described the former as “ a really tight funk band” and added there was “something very special there”.
Toxic Flames gave “an amazing performance” and Robertson said it was the best he had seen the band play.
Newly formed band The FB were happy to win the prize.
Garrick praised the atmosphere on the night and said it was a really good opportunity for young Shetland musicians.
He added: “I think it was a close drawn thing…there was a lot of good bands.”
“I think it’s definitely a good thing for young musicians to be heard and it gives them a chance to get some criticism to improve,” said Kay.
“It’s good to get more young bands playing in Shetland,” said Hall.
Toxic flames, were also happy to be performing at the Heavy Metal Buffet, having performed at the festival previously.
They too noted the opportunity it gave musicians and said they enjoyed taking part.
The recording prize was given to Blind Summit who were called “a great band” and praised for their interaction with the crowd.
The group then rattled off cracking covers to the delight of the punters to end the night with a wonderful wah-wah working of All Along The Watch Tower and Blur’s Song 2 among the encore.
Judge Amanda Pearson said: “We all feel really happy that the future of Shetland music is in good hands.”
I would have to agree.
More in Friday’s Shetland Times