Lisa O’Neill opened the evening, as she has done at a number of folk gigs I’ve been to recently! Her wit and charm work the crowd nicely, and there’s talk of a new album later in the year, which could give her the break she’s been on the cusp of for a number of years.
Rachel and Becky Unthanks, along with a stripped down band of three others, Adrian McNally on piano, Niopha Keegan on fiddle and Chris Price on guitar, took to the altar of the Peppercanister church a little after nine. Gigs in venues such as these can often get a bit lost in the pomp of the surroundings, but the Unthanks were having none of it.
Commenting on the cold of the church, with its impressively high dome ceiling, Rahcel says ‘Even us Geordie girls are wearing tights’ in a thick northern English accent. It’s hard not to love them.
The music was varied throughout the evening, with some songs acapella and without amplification, some with just piano and voice, a few instrumental and all the other variations possible within the five piece. They’re natural musicians, and nothing seems to trouble them. The only percussion on display for the evening was occasional clog dancing from the Unthanks girls!
The songs reflect their own region of England, with a number from their recent ‘Songs from the Shipyard’ album, as well as testimonies from a woman who worked in the mines (Patience Kershaw), and many other local folk songs.
The Unthanks are an experience, and once you’ve seen them, you just have to go back for more! The harmonies, the wonderful musicianship, and of course, the clogging! There’s even talk of them coming back to Dublin later in the year with a Brass band, and it sounds like something not to be missed!
The last song of their set (before the encore) was the wonderful ‘Sea Song’ by Robert Wyatt, as below.