“Home Gathering is like the weather; if you don’t like it just wait a few minutes.” Such is the exciting brilliance of this year’s eclectic line-up that this paraphrased Mark Twain epithet is the perfect outlook on a festival that doesn’t allow itself to be boxed in by genre.
The third year of Home Gathering sees beloved North East darlings The Unthanks take total control over the festival’s programme for the first time – giving the weekend a truly personal feel.
As music lovers, we tend to have a broad spectrum of taste, and the Tyneside band are no exception: “Having covered a lot of musical ground ourselves, we know we are very lucky to have an open-minded and venturesome audience, ready to trust and join us on our journeys.
“We have treated the chance to host our own festival with the same multifarious, magpie-like approach, and what we hope most of all is that people will go home having loved something they weren’t expecting to,” says Unthanks pianist and producer, Adrian McNally.
So what can you expect? The weekend topped, on Sunday afternoon, by an exclusive performance of ‘The Bairns’ by Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, marking the 10th anniversary of the Mercury nominated album. While The Unthanks themselves will be accompanied by a 10-piece band and a 100-strong choir that’s sure to take the roof off on Saturday night.
Elsewhere, quality abounds with a rare solo performance by the peerless Joan As Policewoman as well as the beguiling folktronica of Beth Orton and 6 Music favourites, Dutch Uncles.
The political edge to the weekend is delivered by the poetic subversive funk of The Blockheads, the cutting social commentary of folk singer Chris Wood and original rude boy Neville Staple who, along with new material, brings the number one hits of The Specials.
The rest of the line-up is just as impressive, with London folk singer Lisa Knapp, singer-songwriter Scott Matthews and the highly underrated sometime Fernhill singer, Julie Murphy all set to perform.
You can also hear an array of cross-genre talent from Twelfth day, World Service Project, King Bee, The Keelers, Daoiri Farrell, Bush Gothic, Tantz, and a DJ set from Sir Jac’s Bantamacs.
Comedy fans are treated to Alan Partridge and Royal Family writer, Henry Normal, and Graham Fellows – the genius behind John Shuttleworth, and Jilted John – who surfaces from the shadows of his beloved characters for a rare performance as himself.
The festival is staged in Hoults Yard which was once one of the most famous potteries in the world and is now a hipster-friendly, post-industrial venue. A stone’s throw away from Newcastle’s Ouseburn quarter, it’s an apt setting for a festival where you may find yourself flash-mobbed by a swirling traditional dance team, joined by a masked children’s procession, or just enjoying the best in the local craft, food and drinks scene.
Summing up the essence of the festival, Adrian continues: “It’s great that there’s such diversity of art form and genre to be found at festivals these days, but so often the poetry is in the poetry tent, the comedy is in the comedy tent, the big bands are on the big stage etc.
We want to run a festival that is billed more confidently and randomly, mixing up the audience experience so that good times end up full of enriching surprises.” And that is exactly what makes Home Gathering so special.
Home Gathering takes place in Hoults Yard in Byker from Friday 15th to Sunday 17 September.
Weekend tickets cost £70.00 for adults, £40.00 concessions, £18.00 for 14-17-year-olds, £8.00 for 6-13-year-olds, and under 6’s go free. Separate day tickets are available.
For further information, and to purchase tickets, head to homegathering.co.uk.