LIVE: The Rheingans Sisters – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 23/04/2022 1

LIVE: The Rheingans Sisters – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 23/04/2022

The Rheingans Sisters released their fourth album, Receiver, in October 2020 to widespread critical acclaim. It was described on these very pages as a record that “draws you into an organic web of sonic intrigue that balances folk idioms both old and new.” But given the no little matter of the coronavirus pandemic the siblings were then unable to perform the songs from Receiver in public. Their first opportunity to do so didn’t arise until almost a year later when they took the Receiver tour to numerous venues in England, Wales and Belgium. Now the Rheingans Sisters are back out on the road again going to many of the places they weren’t able to visit last autumn, one of which is Leeds.

Originally from Sheffield in South Yorkshire, Rowan Rheingans now lives just outside the Steel City whilst her sister Anna has made her home some 900 miles away in Toulouse in the south of France. As Rowan explains to us this evening by going out on tour it enables them both to “hang out together and play the music that we like.”

And the music that they like is most certainly the music that those of us lucky enough to be in the Howard Assembly Room tonight like too. They play no less than 16 songs here, the bulk of which are drawn from the Receiver album and are split evenly between two sets that are bisected by a short interval.


Due to all that has happened and continues to happen in the world, the meaning of many of these songs has shifted in the interim. On ‘After The Bell Rang’ the words “they say tomorrow will be fine, tomorrow will be brighter” ring out with a hopeful prescience over the ominous interplay between Rowan’s banjo (made by their father) and Anna’s magnificent tambourin à cordes.

It is one of many powerful highlights in a sublime, often deeply poignant yet always far-reaching performance. There are tunes featuring dual violins inspired by previous trips to Sweden (‘Östbjörka’), traditional French dance (‘Insomnia’), and the ghost of an old Norwegian fiddler (‘Urjen’), as well as the influences of a visit to the Northern Irish city of Derry (‘Photograph’), and conversations with Algerian friends of Anna about life rituals (‘Salt of the Earth’).

The Rheingans Sisters are ultimately song and dance women who present us with a truly global sound that illustrates not only their widescreen creative vision but also their supreme musical versatility.

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from this show are HERE

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