Live: The Unthanks @ Roundhouse.

In a pop-rock world where the introduction of folk elements is seen as somewhat gimmicky and often contradicts the real origins of bands, there lies the true folk music subculture that continues to progress forward. And none is a better reflection of the genre’s current state than traditional Northumbrian folk group The Unthanks who continue to innovate with their newly released eighth studio album Mount The Air.

Rachel & Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Rachel & Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Growing from the all-female line up of original group Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, The Unthanks current line-up consists of Rachel and her younger sister Becky Unthank along with the group’s manager, pianist, producer and Rachel’s husband Adrian McNally. Rounding out the core band are McNally’s childhood friend Chris Price, replaced for his bass duties on this tour by Dan, and Niopha Keegan on the violin. Of course, it wouldn’t be a folk band without an extensive entourage of additional rotating musicians brought into the fold to round out the sound, so was the arrangement of musicians on Camden’s Roundhouse stage as The Unthanks came to London in support of their latest studio album following a four-year hiatus.

Rachel Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Rachel Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

The set was seemingly split into two halves, the first featuring a selection of songs from Mount The Air, starting with the rather sombre Hawthorn and ending with a version of David Dodds’ haunting Magpie which draws on traditional counting rhymes. The second dove into older material including Unthanks’ versions of songs Out Of The Blue and Spiralling by Robert Wyatt and Anthony and the Johnsons respectively, previously released under their collection Diversions Vol. 1.

Rachel & Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Rachel & Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Of course things became lively quickly as epic title track Mount The Air, which reached 10 minutes in length and featured an enigmatic trumpet performance by touring trumpeter Victoria Rule, ended in a cacophony of sound accompanied by the Unthank sisters clog-dancing. Rachel jested that the song was probably the loudest thing The Unthanks had ever produced and that the audience were lucky it was only 10 minutes long as the original version came in at 16 minutes. At that point the clogs came off but were put back on for repeat performances throughout the night.

Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Becky Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

As is the case with much traditional folk music the songs have been passed down to today’s performers by musicians past or have been derived from poetry. But each song has a very specific story to tell and the Unthanks sisters, welcoming those new to traditional folk music into the fold, explained this derivation and history to the audience. An exception to this, perhaps, was the song written by younger sister Becky; Flutter.

 (Kalpesh Patel)

Victoria Rule (Kalpesh Patel)

Another diversion in the set had a recording of violinist Niopha Keegan speaking as a child on the prompting of her father being played to bookend the tune For Dad, a melancholy violin piece written by Keegan for her late father.

Rachel Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Rachel Unthank (Kalpesh Patel)

Throughout the evening the orchestration of the 10 musicians on stage was simply magical while the harmonies reached by The Unthanks sisters would give pause to anyone who would ordinarily dismiss traditional folk music. Given the quiet of the music produced by the collection of musicians on stage, it was difficult but to become enraptured in the atmosphere generated and the near pin drop silence reached at points by the 1500-strong Roundhouse crowd.

Photography & Review by Kalpesh Patel. The Unthanks @ The Roundhouse. March 7th 2015.

The full set here:http://images.rockshotmagazine.com/#!/index/G0000cDsA_j7kAyU

Glastonbury Festival 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)

A Child’s Experience At Glastonbury Festival 2024

Only 7 years old, but already our son considers himself a Glastonbury Festival veteran! It’s his 5th visit to the...
Donovan Woods (Brittany Farhat)

Donovan Woods Releases Seventh Album Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good Now

Acclaimed songwriter Donovan Woods has released his seventh studio album, Things Were Never Good If They’re Not Good...
ARCO (Jacob Barri)

AR/CO Drop Debut EP Origin Stories

The AR/CO creative universe is a fantastical vision of a futuristic desert rave, their pulsating, psychedelic...
Cults (Shervin Lainez) crop

Cults Release Hunting New Single Hung The Moon

Cults have shared their latest track, Hung The Moon. The acclaimed NY-based alt-pop band, comprised of...
China Bears (Rob Blackham:Blackham Images

British Quartet China Bears Release Debut Album Participation Trophy

Rising indie four-piece China Bears have released their highly anticipated debut album Participation Trophy. Speaking...
Robbie Williams @ BST Hyde Park 2024 (Louise Phillips)

Rock DJ Robbie Williams Entertains Us With The Glamour And The Party At BST Hyde Park 2024

On a rainy Saturday at London's beautiful Hyde Park the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement, because the ultimate...
AC/DC @ Wembley Stadium (Kalpesh Patel)

AC/DC Shake London’s Wembley Stadium All Night Long

Australian rock legends AC/DC return to London for the first of two sold-out gigs as the PWR/UP tour hits the...
Dua Lipa @ Glastonbury Festival 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)

Dua Lipa Pulls Off A Feat Of Pop Houdini At Glastonbury 2024

“This is a massive, massive, massive dream come true for me. I have written this moment down, I have wished for it, I...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share Thing