Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Unthanks salute the magic of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons

You may have heard of The Unthanks. They are Becky and Rachel Unthank and some musicians from an English region who made their names singing local folk tunes. They came to Dublin recently, not to sing their usual repertoire but to treat us to covers of songs by Antony & The Johnsons and Robert Wyatt. I went along. Because the helpful people who run Whelans gave the door opening time on the ticket, but not the concert start time, I missed the first number of songs. This turned out not matter too much as they began with the Mr Antony tunes, and I have adopted an anti-Antony position for no good reason other than a dislike of bald people. However, as I am not that familiar with the music of either Mr Antony or Robert Wyatt, for all that I officially wuv Mr Wyatt, it took me some time to realise that I had not missed the good stuff. And in fairness, the Mr Antony tunes I heard did not sound that dreadful, so maybe I should re-evaluate my animus towards that hipster-friendly artist.

The Robert Wyatt set was notable for the non-inclusion of any of the covers that for me are the most notable tunes by that man. So there was no 'Shipbuilding', 'Biko', or 'Stalin Wasn't Stalling'. But they did play 'Dondestan', which features the wonderful lyrics "Palestine's a country / or at least it used to be / Fellahin, refugee / Kurdistan similarly". To this the Unthank sisters added in a bit of clog dancing. Their performance of 'Sea Song' (an odd Robert Wyatt love song) was then rather affecting.

An inuit panda production

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