Saturday Aug 24, 2019 @ 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure may seem like polar opposites, yet they are easy bedfellows in the gentle hands of The Unthanks. They see folk music less as a style and more as a oral history that offers perspective on our own time. Their approach to storytelling straddles the complex relationship between modernism and learning from the past.
You might find them singing in a Tyneside folk club one night, and playing to 2000 Londoners the next, having performed to a primary school in the afternoon. On BBC Radio 2 as equally on BBC6 Music, Radio 3 and Radio 1. Definable only by their restless eccentricity, there are no easy one-liners to capture who or what The Unthanks are, or much point in guessing what they’ll do next.
This goes part way to explaining the depth and breadth of their many notable fans: Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Robert Wyatt, Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, Rosanne Cash, Dawn French, Paul Morley, Al Murray, Ewan McGregor, Colin Firth and Nick Hornby, to name a few.
Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and the only British folk representation in The Guardian’s and Uncut’s best albums of last decade, The Unthanks is a family affair for Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, with Rachel married to pianist, producer, arranger and composer, Adrian McNally. Using the traditional music of the North East as a starting point, the influence of Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits can be heard in the band’s seven albums to date.
“They run from the root of folk music to the very tip of the branch” Elvis Costello
“There are few times when you hear an album or discover a band and they stalk immediately to the heart of everything you love and hold dear” Maxine Peake
“The Unthanks are capable of such beauty that sometimes I can hardly bear to listen to them. And sometimes, when I know I need it, I’ll listen to them to open me up and clean me out” Martin Freeman