Northern Soul

Articles relating to: Manchester

The Northern Soul Awards 2017: a celebration of culture and enterprise in the North of England

April 24, 2017 No Comments

The Northern Soul Awards 2017 – a celebration of culture and enterprise in the North of England

Share Button
Read the full story..

Review: Indique, West Didsbury, Manchester

April 21, 2017 No Comments

Name your ten best Indian restaurants in Manchester. This and That for value for money and good cooking, obvs, and…actually they’re pretty much all the same.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Molly Drake Unthanks

Review: The Unthanks, RNCM, Manchester

April 21, 2017 No Comments
One of the many fine and fascinating things about The Unthanks is how they manage to fearlessly represent the very epitome of the folk tradition yet at the same time are so extraordinarily adventurous.

Their last album Mount The Air was one of the most remarkable records of recent years, not least for its melding of Miles-esque jazz with clog dancing. In parallel to their – for want of a better description – mainstream output, they’ve also released a series of Diversions which includes an exploration of the songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons, a rearrangement of the band’s their own output with a brass band, and a celebration of Songs From The Shipyards. The just-released Diversions Vol. 4 provides the basis for their new How Wild The Wind Blows tour and finds them interpreting the songs and poems of Molly Drake.

The Unthanks believe that Molly’s private collection of home recordings, only recently unearthed and made public, “contains songs extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of the work of her revered son, Nick Drake”. That’s a slightly contentious assertion, of course, but what’s undeniable is that Molly’s songs do have an intrinsic value of their own, not least as (although they are accomplished and fully realised pieces of work) they were presumably never designed to be exposed to an audience. Thus, they have a bittersweet fragility and innocence that can’t help but prompt comparisons with her son’s output.

FB-The-Unthanks-Diversions-Vol-4-Album-CoverFor the project (and there’s another Extras collection only available from the website or on the tour that includes two of Molly’s finest songs, Happiness and Night Is My Friend, as well as more of her poetry) they teamed up with Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister – the celebrated actress Gabrielle Drake – and her pre-recorded performances of her mother’s poetry are at least as important to this tour as the always-stunning singing of Rachel and Becky Unthank, or the tasteful musical accompaniment of pianist and arranger Adrian McNally, the double-bass of Chris Price and the violin of Niopha Keegan, as well as tour newcomer Faye MacCalman on clarinet and tenor sax.

As with their Songs From The Shipyards tour, it’s presented as something of a multi-media experience, with Gabrielle’s readings accompanied by on-screen family pictures and a homely-looking set, decorated with the sort of chairs, flowers and standard lamps that you might well have found in the Cambridge living room where Molly’s husband Rodney recorded his wife singing. The unearthed original tape, which few in the RNCM would have already heard, I suspect – indeed the vast majority would not have heard any of the songs at all – is soon to be reissued and thus we’ll have a chance to compare the original versions with The Unthanks’ new arrangements, should we wish.

It might upset the band to hear this but I doubt I will be one of the ones doing so – the fragile magic of the songs as rendered by The Unthanks is enough to prove to me that Molly was indeed a notable talent. But would this show exist without the cult following that’s grown up around her son? Probably not, and they even included River Man, apparently the first Nick Drake song Becky ever heard right here in Manchester, as an encore. But that doesn’t mean that this is not a fascinating, meaningful and strangely moving show, well worth checking out live and definitely on record.

*** It could hardly be more different to the diligence and careful beauty of The Unthanks show by the sounds of it, but surely proving the enduring fascination for all things Nick Drake, The Lowry in Salford hosts a show on June 1 called Strange Face – Adventures With A Lost Nick Drake Recording. This recounts how an unknown version of Cello Song, one of Nick’s greatest works, was rescued by a former post boy at Island Records, who recently travelled the length and breadth of Britain with the aim of offering individuals he randomly stopped in the street, at their places of work or in their homes an exclusive opportunity to hear the recording.

By Kevin Bourke

 

For Unthanks tour details, click here

 

Share Button

Not From Around There: finding a place in historical fiction

April 19, 2017 No Comments

My debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister, is set in Essex. Which, it’s fair to say, is not The North.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Gusto Manchester

Review: Spring/Summer Menu, Gusto, Manchester

April 19, 2017 No Comments

When I think of Italian food, I’m met with images of pizza and luxurious pasta.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Chai Thali, London

Chips ‘n’ Gravy: London’s restaurants are booming and blooming

April 19, 2017 No Comments

English seasons are usually pretty indistinct.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Vanita Grillo

No time for tea: Northern Soul heads inside The Co-op’s wine tasting room

April 19, 2017 No Comments

Janet Harrison, organiser of the annual Fizz Festival and founder of Cracking Winesrecounts her experience inside the wine tasting room at The Co-op head office in Manchester and shares her pick of the tipples on offer.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Kate O'Donnell as Feste in Twelfth Night photo Jonathan Keenan

Subverting Shakespeare: Northern Soul chats to Kate O’Donnell about making Feste a feisty female

April 19, 2017 No Comments

I’ve never been behind the scenes at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and so it feels peculiar to be heading for the stage door.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Vinyl Revival, image by Fco Javier Heras

“The aim of the shop is to sell good music” We check out Vinyl Revival in Manchester

April 17, 2017 No Comments

I was determined.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Julie Hesmondhalgh talks Broadchurch, Brexit and the importance of theatre

April 17, 2017 No Comments

It’s the final episode of Broadchuch tonight. If like Northern Soul you’ve been gripped by the last series of this superlative drama, that’s due in no small part to Julie Hesmondhalgh’s gripping portrayal of a rape victim.

Share Button
Read the full story..