Blog : Posts tagged with 'audience'



In which we review Rachel Unthank and the Winterset

This weekend’s gig: Rachel Unthank and The Winterset, at the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Theatre. “People ask us if ‘Unthank’ is our stage name,” said Rachel. “Who’d choose a name like ‘Unthank’?” Personally, it reminds me of Scotland;* but the Unthank family are Northumbrian. Rachel and her sister Becky share the major vocal parts, with a piano and another musician behind them.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of folk; but then, I don’t really agree with the concept of genre to start with. And, to start with, it was a little avant-garde: slow, not really rhythmic at all, but relying on the beauty of the sisters’ voices, the pianist darting from one end of the keyboard to the other and occasionally reaching inside the piano’s innards to pluck its strings directly. We were a little distracted by a woman just in front of us in the audience, who had decided that the quiet opening was the ideal time to take a loud phone call. “Don’t you shush me!” she said, harshly, to anybody who complained, as she pushed her way out of the row. “MY SON is more important than YOUR HEARING”. I was sorely tempted to mutter “Oh no he isn’t” sotto voce, but the rude bint would probably have tried to lamp me one. Fortunately, she was soon gone.

The gig continued, with songs getting a little more up-tempo, but always with the slight flexibility implied by the lack of percussion. If the band needed percussion, they provided it with their feet; but its lack gave them the freedom to explore, to work in free time without any constricting structures. They seemed to be able to soar at will with their voices; and Rachel stood with her hands spread and moving across her lap, as if she was consciously grasping the music with them and guiding herself.

I must have been enjoying it, because I even joined in with the audience participation sections, something I’m normally loath to do, and despite barely being able to carry a tune. Not that it matters when you’re in the middle of an audience; but still. After a rousing and catchy midwinter song** about the Allendale new year fire ceremony, they finished up with all four of the band, together a capella, singing a Shetland song with lyrics in Norn.*** I couldn’t make out the words from the sound, but the sound was beautiful enough to not need anything more.

* One of my favourite novels is Alasdair Gray’s classic Lanark, largely set in a city called Unthank.

** So catchy the chorus is still stuck in my head three days later.

*** The strand of the Nordic languages spoken in Shetland until the 19th century, similar to Faroese and some dialects of Norwegian

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In which we watch

There was Art going on in Trafalgar Square the other weekend. You could tell it was Art, because it couldn’t really have been anything else. Other than an alien landing, Doctor Who filmshoot, or something similar.

Art in Trafalgar Square Art in Trafalgar Square

A bit of searching, and I’ve discovered I was watching a performance of Miniatora, by the Candoco Candoco Dance Company. As usual, I found watching the crowd more interesting than watching the performance itself.

Crowds in Trafalgar Square

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The Audience (part one)

In which people know what FP said

When I write things here, I don’t think about who might be reading them. Most of the time, I write posts to entertain an itch in my head. I get it down in words, and then I forget about it. The readers, if I do think about them, are the crowd of maybe 20 people who I know personally, who I know read this site fairly regularly.*

It’s a bit of a surprise to realise that other people do read and follow what I write. The other day, for example. I was sitting around in a club, one of those places where there are lots of people whose faces look somewhat familiar, but you don’t actually know them. One of those people – I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere before, but it would take me a few minutes to remember where – joined in the conversation. Before long, he said, to me: “I remember you blogged about that.”

All I could do was nod, in a slightly surprised way. But, really, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. These words are out in public, after all. There are a couple of sites on the net that have both a photo of me** and a link to this blog; and nearly all the customers of the club we were in have an account on one of them. Nevertheless, I was rather surprised, because I’d never have dreamed that some random stranger who I’d barely talked to before would have seen my photo online, read the blog, and remembered it well enough to then recognise me in a dark nightclub.

This is all extra-silly, though, because I do the same thing myself. So I shouldn’t be surprised when it happens to me. In fact, that same night, I had a conversation with someone else I barely know, where I was the one saying “oh, I read that on your blog.” That story, though, can wait for another day.

* either because they have linked to me, or because they know me in real life, or because I know they follow the links to this site from other places I’m active online.

** although I am very used to people saying “ooh, you don’t look like your photo at all!” There is even a photo I’m in somewhere on this site, but it’s not captioned.

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