THE UNTHANKS, the award winning English folk band, led by sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, return to the Róisín Dubh on Sunday February 24 at 8pm.
The show is billed as An Intimate Evening With The Unthanks and the band has won critical and public acclaim through their focus on Northumbrian folk songs, culture, and indeed, clog dancing.
“The clog dancing is the thing that often goes down best,” Rachel said when I interviewed her in 2011. “It’s quite technical and comes from the dances men on the ships used to do. Becky and I grew up doing it and entered competitions in the area.”
Becky also points out that, as proud Geordies, she and her sister are keen to show off the area’s culture and heritage.
“We have a unique identity within England and a strong sense of culture,” Becky told me when I interviewed her in 2010. “The northeast of England has a lot more in common with Ireland and Scotland than with the rest of England. When we go all around the world singing, audiences think we’re Irish or Scottish.”
While last year saw the release of two live albums - The Unthanks with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band and Songs from the Shipyards - their most recent studio release, 2011’s Last, sums up their approach to music with its mix of traditional and original material, infused with a sombre melancholy. Yet the band are not grim individuals, the exact opposite as anyone who has seen them in concert will testify.
“The better stories and the more complex ones are the sad stories sometimes,” said Rachel. “Growing up with this type of music you can’t be afraid of dealing with subjects that are tragic and are the facts of life. People have sung these songs for hundreds of years and I love songs that don’t shy away from that and deal with situations that are difficult to talk about.”
Tickets are available at www.roisindubh.net, from the Ticket Desk at OMG, Shop Street (formerly Zhivago ), and The Róisín Dubh.