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The Ukrainians take over The Cluny for music and laughs

They began as a spin-off from The Wedding Present but now The Ukrainians are an act in their own right

Paul Jackson Photography Folk group The Ukrainians
Folk group The Ukrainians

When I said I was going to see The Ukrainians, I was asked how they would all fit on the stage.

But these Ukrainians are a Leeds-based band, a spin off from indy group The Wedding Present that arose out of a John Peel session.

The Wedding Present were playing a number of sessions for the late maverick DJ and decided to perform one of them in Ukrainian.

The session was played repeatedly and 25 years later they are still performing their high energy punk-folk fusion, singing in Ukrainian.

Not only was The Cluny the ideal venue for the Ukrainians, it was also appropriate as the venue is dedicated to John Peel and used to have a big picture of the great man on the wall.

The tour was in support of latest release A History of Rock Music in Ukrainian, 16 well-known rock and pop songs sung in Ukrainian in a folk-punk style.

The stage backdrop appeared to be influenced by the cover of the book A Short History of Tractors In Ukrainian (by Sheffield author Marina Lewycka).

The evening opened with the first track from the album, a cover of Back In The USSR, which I thought highly amusing.

They rapidly went through rock history, from early rock and roll standard Hound Dog – first recorded by Willie Mae Thornton in the early 1950s and turned into a hit by Elvis Presley – to The Kaiser Chiefs’ indy hit, I Predict A Riot.

Their version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song was a scream while in California Dreaming they blended the American west coast hippy spirit with the traditional music of eastern Europe.

It was perfect party music performed with great style and finesse.


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