When: 7pm on Wednesday 11 March 2015
Where: The Ritz, Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5NQ
We’re delighted to be welcoming back The Unthanks – their first Manchester show in three years.
Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and the only British folk representation in the Guardian and Uncut’s best albums of last decade, The Unthanks have an army of notable fans – Martin Freeman, Elvis Costello, Colin Firth, Robert Wyatt, Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, Rosanne Cash, Dawn French, Paul Morley, Ewan McGregor and Nick Hornby, to name but a few.
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 of England 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.
Since releasing three project albums in one year back in 2012, The Unthanks have been hiding away in Northumberland, quietly working away on an ambitious follow-up to 2011’s Last. Who knows how rich, imaginative and groundbreaking their new album will be, released to coincide with this tour, and to be brought to life on stage with a talented 10-piece band.
It’s anyone’s guess. Those project albums – the orchestral ambition of a brass band collaboration, a reimagining of the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony Hegarty, and a soundtrack to a film about the shipbuilding industry – give little clue, while work since then with Orbital, Sting, Adrian Utley (Portishead), Martin Green (Lau), Martin Hayes, The Voice Squad, Charles Hazlewood, The Moulettes and German composer Werner Cee is so disparate that making predictions is impossible.
Definable only by their restless, peerless eccentricity, The Unthanks see folk music less as a style of music and more as a oral history that offers perspective on our own time. Their unique approach to storytelling straddles the complex relationship between modernism and learning from the past. Staunch traditionalism and sonic adventure may seem like polar opposites, yet they are easy bedfellows in the gentle hands of The Unthanks.
‘The Unthanks seem to regard folk music the same way Miles Davis regarded jazz: as a launch pad for exploring the wider possibilities’ – Uncut
‘There really is no better folk band in the land’ – Q Magazine
Support comes from The Young’uns, who were recently nominated in the Best Group category of the BBC Folk Awards. They have performed alongside Billy Bragg at Glastonbury and opened the main stage at Cambridge Folk Festival. The Young’uns new album Another Man’s Ground celebrates working class heroes of the past and present with powerful and poignant tales of struggle, poverty and peace.