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Where does a band go, after a symphonic journey that peaks with orchestral performances at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall? Back to the beginning of course. Before fronting one of the most artistically brave and revered bands working today, Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank grew up singing songs without accompaniment, in weaving, unschooled vocal harmony. As if to prove that creativity should never be about ambition or aspiration, The Unthanks move on from their recent orchestral explorations by going back to what they know and do best – singing in unaccompanied harmony – joined on this tour by Unthanks member Niopha Keegan to make a vocal trio. The three have already established a band within a band in The Unthanks, with the success of haunting harmony signature pieces like Magpie, recently brought to wider attention by Mackenzie Crook’s beautifully poignant series, Detectorists. On this tour, they fully explore their rich and unique vocal combinations, with brand new material and arrangements, alongside more familiar Unthanks material. Believing unaccompanied song to be a performance art of storytelling and communication, instead of recording a studio album, each show will be recorded and there will be chance at shows to pre-order a forthcoming album compiled from live performances on this tour.
“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
Special guests: Aidan O’Rourke and Kit Downes
Lau’s Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle) and ECM artist Kit Downes (piano, harmonium) are perhaps the two most compelling and inventive players of their instruments we have in the British Isles today. The pair came to together for 365 – a project inspired by James Robertson‘s short story anthology of the same name, containing 365 stories of 365 words written one per day for a year, inspiring Aidan O’Rourke to write a tune inspired by each story, coloured by Kit’s inspired accompaniment – one a day for a year – released in several volumes on record. The result is a body of work of minimalist beauty and quiet brilliance. Their combination and understanding of folk and jazz traditions, creates a union that evokes the very greatest of musical partnerships from both worlds, such Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill, John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis and Gil Evans. If there’s any justice, history will eventually place them in such context.
Wed 24 Apr, 7:00pm at Red Brick Auditorium