A triumphant standing-room only late night session at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree with Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat marked the end of the first True North festival last night - a three-day feast of songs and music.
The closing gig followed a sensational gala night at the city’s Music Hall celebrating the work of Neil Young, with a stage brimful of Scots talent paying homage to one of the greatest old masters.
Young Scottish musicians including Blue Rose Code, Withered Hand, Tommy Reilly, Emma Pollock, and Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott and Sarah Hayes, and Welsh duo Zervas and Pepper, rocked out alongside household names Eddi Reader, Justin Currie and Rab Noakes, who spent time with Neil Young in San Francisco in the 1970s.
The show was led and directed by the unstoppable Roddy Hart alongside house band The Lonesome Fire, and the performers brought the audience to their feet in a standing ovation after performing the show’s title song Long May You Run and Rockin’ in the Free World as a fitting finales.
“This is a great new festival for Aberdeen and Scotland – long may True North run,” said Roddy to the cheering crowd.
Delighted True North organisers Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) declared the event a great success and vowed to stage it again next September.
APA chief executive Jane Spiers said: “We've been thrilled with our first True North: Scotland's newest festival and a celebration of singer-songwriter traditions.
“This is another new strand of Aberdeen Performing Arts own produced work - these uniquely curated programmes attract visitors to the city and generate business for taxi drivers, hotels, restaurants and shops in the city.
“It's been a strong start and we will continue to work over the coming weeks and months to grow on our success for next year."
Although set in venues all across the city, much of True North was based at APA’s Lemon Tree – the only venue in Scotland to be nominated for an award in this year’s LiveUK Music Business Awards.
True North opened with a Lemon Tree gig starring the rising Scots band Fatherson with support from local newcomers 101, followed by a late night session hosted by Hubby with renowned English guitarist James Blackshaw.
Over the course of the following two days, there were pop-up performances and acoustic sets at different venues around the city, including the Maritime Museum and local pubs; a lunchtime session exploring traditional song, a headline gig with the award-winning Tom Odell and a late nighter with Malcolm Middleton.
There was a mellow yet informative start to Sunday, with a Songwriters’ Circle event, before Rachel Sermanni and The Unthanks wowed the sellout crowd in Queen’s Cross Church and finally the closing gala event and final late night session when Kathryn Joseph joined the line-up along with Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat.
“The first True North festival was blessed with artists of amazing skill, talent and passion, and we are so grateful for the time and energy they devoted to making the event such a great musical success,” said APA director of programming and creative projects Ben Torrie.
“The audiences were invested from the start and helped create an amazing atmosphere and buzz across the city which we can’t wait to build on for next year.”