Immaculate performance as Aly and Phil make themselves at home

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham settle into their set at Mareel. Photo: Dale Smith
Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham settle into their set at Mareel. Photo: Dale Smith

Last night saw a triumphant performance by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham as part of Fiddle Frenzy.

The sell-out concert – part of their 30th-anniversary tour – at Mareel had folk queueing early, to witness a very popular “couple” in folk music. Aly has been touring for an amazing 48 years but his bow is as expressive as ever – ably joined at the hip with Phil’s terrifically tinkling box.

Fiddle Frenzy this year has been determined to widen the remit of the festival with more frenzy than fiddle at times.

Last night there was a highly entertaining novelty item, before the bruiser of a concert, with an Aly and Phil Ready, Steady, Cook!-type affair. On stage with Eunice Henderson and Jane Moncrieff from Radio Shetland’s Shetland’s Larder the musicians cooked up a storm.

Mareel’s normal hint of coffee aroma was replaced by intriguing spices wafting up from the stage inducing hunger pangs in the audience.

The boys on Thursday night were cooking in more ways than one on stage.

Support for the concert was provided by Fjanna the award-winning young group who were undaunted in showing the audience that the Shetland folk tradition is safe in their hands.

Aly and Phil lived up to their international reputation with the musical and personal chemistry flowing relentlessly. Immaculately turned out tunes were interspersed with self-deprecating banter and stories worthy of any comedy duo.

Every now and then there was a knowing smile or look as they shared the joy of the music.

Pianist Violet Tulloch joins Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham on stage.
Pianist Violet Tulloch joins Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham on stage.

For several tunes they were joined by birthday-girl Violet Tulloch “The Queen of Lerwick” on piano, which gave another layer on a special cake of entertainment.

I’ve seen Aly and Phil before but felt that last night the pair found the Shetland audience as comfortable as an old pair of smucks.

At the end of their encore Aly showed his appreciation. “Thank you for being here, if you weren’t we’d look quite stupid!”

There was no chance of that happening.

• A full report will appear in next week’s Shetland Times.


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