The 41st Shetland Folk Festival kicked off in style on Thursday night, with crowds in Lerwick, Whiteness and Voe treated to a mouth-watering mix of talent – setting the tone for the rest of the weekend’s action.
At the St. Columba’s church in town – known commonly as the big kirk – it was left up to home favourites Kansa to kick-off the entertainment with their warm Americana sound.
Starting with the title track from their latest album The Rowan Tree, the six-piece acoustic group complimented each other beautifully in such a close setting.
The group ended with a cover of Portugal. The Man’s Feel It Still, putting a bluegrass spin on the pop pick.
Manchester blues singer Kyla Brox was up next, and given a rousing reception by compere and fan Danny Peterson.
It was soon clear to the crowd why he was such an enthusiast – accompanied by an electric and acoustic guitar, Brox’s powerful soul singing seemed to reverberate and rattle through the pews of the kirk.
Her elongated ending to her own track Change Your Mind elicited impressed looks around the room, before she finished with an incredible cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Brox’s version – coupled with its religious setting – was one of the highlights of the evening, maybe even some people’s highlight of the weekend, and had people off their feet to show their appreciation.
It was left up to American Americana stalwarts – the returning Foghorn Stringband – to close out the concert.
Combining lively country and bluegrass inspirations with jokes about the lack of trees in Shetland, the group were clearly a popular pick to bring back to the isles, following their last appearance in 2010.
They sent the big kirk crowd off into the night – or straight to the festival club – with a spring in their step, and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.