One of Scotland’s leading young rock bands has been unveiled as the first headliner for this summer’s Tall Ships Races in Lerwick.
Tide Lines, whose last album ‘Eye of the Storm’ topped the Scottish charts and narrowly missed the UK top ten, will headline the 5,000-capacity outdoor arena at Holmsgarth Pier on Thursday 27 July.
The band are about to release their third record ‘An Ocean Full of Islands’. Their March shows at Aberdeen Music Hall and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall have already sold out, and Tide Lines have just announced their biggest show to date at Queen’s Park in Glasgow this June.
Shetland Tall Ships Ltd’s music coordinator Tim Matthew, who has booked dozens of acts from a wide range of genres to perform at the four-day event, said it was “really exciting” to attract such a big name while they are still on an upward trajectory.
He is confident Tide Lines’ trademark anthemic songs and blistering live show, anchored in their Highlands and Islands roots, will prove a hit with many locals and visitors this summer.
“They’re absolutely doing their own thing, they’re very successful with it and we’re catching them at a point where they’re still getting bigger,” Tim said.
“It’s probably the last chance to see them before they become super-big. They’ve got a sound that works terrifically well in large outdoor spaces, and we’re very confident they’ll deliver a memorable night for thousands of folk.”
Tide Lines consists of frontman Robert Robertson, guitarist and bagpiper Alasdair Turner, keyboard player Ross Wilson and drummer Fergus Munro. They are described as a “modern alt-pop band with universal, international appeal and the anthemic emotional punch of classic American heartland rock”.
Getting the crowd in the party swing ahead of Tide Lines’ set at Holmsgarth will be high-octane Orkney folk favourites The Chair. Those looking for a slightly mellower Thursday evening’s entertainment can enjoy veteran legends of the stage Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham at Victoria Pier.
Another familiar face of the Shetland music scene, Inge Thomson of Fair Isle, will be coming home for a solo show featuring songs performed on folk and electronic instruments.
Inge, now based just outside Edinburgh, has been busy producing records for other artists, working on film soundtracks and touring with various acts including Karine Polwart. She is currently producing a track with London-Bengali artist Bishi and writing a new commission for Glasgow’s Tectonics Festival.
“Never a dull moment,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Tall Ships celebrations in Lerwick. It will be very special indeed!”
Another native islander returning for the week will be Anise Pearson, performing under the name Queen of Harps.
Daughter of the late and much-loved Heidi Pearson, Anise is one of a rare breed of musicians who can legitimately call themselves a “hip-hop harpist”. Half Malaysian-Chinese, she works at Intercultural Youth Scotland helping young people of colour to develop their creativity, write and produce music.
“As a Shetlander, coming back to Tall Ships 2023 as an artist is the best feeling,” Anise says. “I have been coming to this festival since I was a peerie lass, so being able to return and share my music is going to be so exciting. This will be my first ever Shetland performance as ‘Queen of Harps’.”
Another facet of the eclectic line-up Tim has pulled together for the programme of music, running from Wednesday 26 to Saturday 29 July, will be a nightly schedule of DJs performing at Mareel.
The line-up includes Dolphin Boy, who has remixed some of the greatest names in trad music. He has been one of the fulcrums of Scotland’s evolving experimental scene over the past two decades, bringing various strands of live music together in his own productions.
He is best known for uniting elements of classical, traditional and electronic dance music, Tim says, bringing “a new spin to well-loved pieces”.
The full music programme for Tall Ships Lerwick will be unveiled through the spring, with all ticketed events set to go on sale in early May.