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Rachel Unthank & The Winterset @ The Factory Theatre (Sydney), 21/03/2009 w/ The Laura Jean Band

March 22, 2009

rachelunthankthewintersetaustraliantour2009ru_14jan09

A night of neo-avant-folk was in store for me at The Factory a few nights ago. The two outfits gracing the stage were both beautiful in their vocal abilities however slightly differentin their distinct ways. As soon as I walked through the door Laura Jean and her Eden Band were as sultry as a sparkly folkie can be. Laura’s admission of her being tired was a little bit surprising, considering she didn’t show an ounce of it when playing tracks from her Eden Land album. I was only familiar with Our Swan Song, so many of the songs sung were new to me. She also gave us a few tasters of new tracks that apparently were “a bit Elton John” (actually they weren’t, but did anyone care?). I have never heard a clarinet sound so lovely too.

Rachel Unthank And The Winterset are a little more minimalistic than Laura, but when the ladies came out on stage, I was smiling as soon as the first note was hit on the piano (this, despite most of their songs are quite slow and deeply haunting). I fell in love with The Bairns so much last year and hearing these Irish accents in song is so refreshing. The band played their minimalist, deeply English folk music so well that they had the audience spellbound, not wanting to ruin a song by clapping prematurely. The unusual lineup (just vocals, electronic piano, viola, cello – no guitar or drums) brings their dark qualities to the fore especially live.

This was of a stark contrast compared with the happy jovial nature of their banter throughout the show. “On a Monday Morning” captured some real lighthearted subject matter lyrically, despite the minimal set up again making the song sounding like a soundtrack to a ghosts vagabond adventures of a night. Other highlights included a wonderful cover of Nick Drake’s “River Man” and wonderfully melodic “Felton Lonnon” (and very well accompanied by high heels too). It was a wonderful haunting night, and also nice to sit at a table for a gig for a change.

Laura Jean website myspace
Rachel Unthank And The Winterset website myspace

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