Review: Cortese and the Dancecards impress on return to Mareel

Laura Cortese and the Dancecards perform to a sell-out crowd in Mareel. Photo: Dave Donaldson

It was a sellout night at Mareel on Tuesday as music fans gathered to hear American quartet Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards.

Local band Kansa kicked off the night with a mix of Americana and bluegrass songs.

They delivered a polished performance of songs such as Andrew Bird’s Three White Horses along with a few new songs by themselves, including mandolin player, Adrian Wishart’s still nameless tune and a song based on a Shetland folk tale.

Lead vocalists Karlyn Grains and Norma Wishart created beautiful harmonies while being backed up by the excellent skills of Robert Wishart on guitar and Adam Priest on bass.

The band announced that it would be fiddler Lynda Anderson’s last time playing with the band for a while as she is heading off to Nashville.

Kansa opened the night with their blend of harmonies and bluegrass-infused songs and tunes. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Kansa finished with a cover of Peter Cleighton’s Roaming Gambler which it was clear the audience loved by the sound of applause that echoed around the Mareel auditorium.

The audience were excited as the main act, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards took to the stage starting with Train on the Island.

Laura and the band said they were glad that to be back in Shetland after having played the Shetland Folk Festival last year, before launching into hits such as Into The Dark and murder ballad Brown Wrinkled Dress.

Cellist Valerie Thompson had some good banter with the audience as she told a story about how she liked the romance of listening to music on a record player (and encouraged folk to buy their record) before it was recommended by Cortese that people should follow them on Twitter to find out all the crazy things that Valerie says.

The group performed one of fiddler and vocalist, Jenna Moynihan’s creations, Dolina MacKay, a fast-paced Scottish influenced song from her album Woven.

The crowd was loving the song I am The House which Cortese described as being a mix between disco and bluegrass.

The group were promoting their new album California Calling which they are hoping to release in the autumn. New songs included rhododendron an a capella song inspired by the purple flowers that they had seen while travelling on the A9. The song highlighted the group’s harmonies and the vocal ranges in each of their voices.

Someday, a second song from their up and coming album was inspired by someone that Cortese had met on the ferry when they were travelling home from Shetland last time. With catchy lyrics and a touch of pop, the song is likely to be a big hit.

The title track of the California Calling, was an upbeat song, again with an element of pop which the audience loved, tapping their feet and giving it a huge round of applause at the end.

Other hits included the tracks Take Your Time and Mångata. Cortese went on to explain that mångata is the Swedish word that describes evenings when the moonlight shines on water creating a glow and reflection. The word translates to moon road and the track is instrumental which brings to mind notions of what it would be like to go skating across a frozen lake.

Instead of going back on stage for the encore the group came into the audience to play, which got everyone one the edge of their seat to make sure that they had a good view.

The band finished with their rendition of the disco-era song Turn The Beat Around which was also a Gloria Estefan chart-topper. Cortese again tried to get the crowd to sing along with the song but it seems that Shetlanders would prefer to appreciate performances than to include themselves in it.

By mixing folk and pop, it won’t be long until the band becomes more successful. That may be seen with the release of their new album.

Samantha Allan


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