15th September 2017
The Songs Of Robert Wyatt And Antony & The Johnsons - Live From The Union Chapel, London (Diversions Vol.1)
(Antony & The Johnsons): 1. Bird Gerhl / 2. Man Is The Baby / 3. You Are My Sister / 4. For Today I Am A Boy / 5. Paddy's Gone / 6. Spiralling. (Robert Wyatt): 7. Stay Tuned / 8. Dondestan / 9. Lullaby For Hamza / 10. Lisp Service / 11. Free Will And Testament / 12. Out Of The Blue / 13. Cuckoo Madame / 14. Sea Song / 15. Forest (excerpt)
It was December 2010 when The Unthanks staged a concert that was at once both fun and their most daunting project yet. Over two sold out nights at the Union Chapel, London, their exploration of music by Antony & The Johnsons and Robert Wyatt was an irreverent joy, making The Independent's Gigs of the Year list. Those London shows are now captured on a live album, and to mark its release, The Unthanks take their Robert/ Antony show, previously only performed in London, on a December tour of the UK and Ireland. The album is the first volume in what will be a series of Unthank albums called Diversions. The series is designed to capture and document a prolific twelve months which has been full of unique projects for the Mercury nominated Tynesiders: from their hugely successful collaboration with National Champions of Great Britain, Brighouse and Ratrick Brass Band, to a soundtrack performed live to a new film made from archive footage of Britain's shipyards, to the Hegarty / Wyatt project celebrated here. Rachel and Becky Unthank have long found kindred energies in the proudly maverick English soul of Robert Wyatt. Their interpretation of his 'Sea Song' was one of the real jewels of Mercury Music Prize nominated second album 'The Bairns', and regarded by Wyatt himself as the finest interpretation by another artist of his songs. Wyatt was helpful and enthusiastic to the band in their preparations for this project, pleased that his songs are being performed live, given that he himself chooses not to perform these days. Similarly, they have previously dipped their toe in the water with Antony Hegarty's music. 'For Today I Am A Boy' was a showstopper in the early days of Rachel Unthank & The Winterset. With a December tour to mark the release, a Scottish premiere at Celtic Connections in January and a promise of more Wyatt / Hegarty songs not featured on the album, the project appears to have a life of its own, as The Unthanks continue to explore two of the most adventurous songbooks of the last half-century.