Woman’s Hour


Formed in 2011 and named after the news and culture show on BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour is made up of siblings Fiona and William Burgess and synth player Josh Hunnisett.

Their 2014 debut album Conversations was received well by critics, receiving strong reviews across the board, but since that debut release, there has been a long gap in their music with 5 years in the making of the difficult second album.

I became a fan of this band after discovering the track ‘Her Ghost’, which was the first single released from Conversations; repeated listens later and never having had the chance to see them live, and the lack of new music meant they kind of fell off my radar. During that time though they have been making music, but after reported problems with their record label, in 2017, they called time on the band, later deciding to get back together to use their demos and finally record the latest album, Ephrya.

Tonight they are in Manchester, on tour, for the final time, stopping off at Gullivers.

Opening with new music, ‘From Eden to Exile Then Into Dust’, a lengthy number spanning genres (sampled speech, electro beats, 90s rave all encapsulated by haunting vocals), swiftly followed by the darker sounds of ‘I Can’t Take You Seriously’, we get a gracious “thank you” in response to the audience applause after every track. During the set we experience quite a look back at 2014’s Conversations, ‘To the End’ showing the moodier, smoother side of the band, and ‘Darkest Place’ which Fiona introduces as being relevant, if not only in the title, to the UK’s current political situation. ‘Two Sides’ is even more angelic, hymn-like sounding live, a mesmerising moment watching Fiona on stage. The biggest surprise of the performance comes from a cover of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’: it is one of my favourite songs, and their version is wonderful, a gentle caress of the lyrics and meaning, it really is a treat for the crowd.

As the set inevitably comes to its close, they dedicate ‘Our Love Has No Rhythm’ to absent member Josh (the first song they wrote together), but we receive no explanation of why he isn’t here this evening. Fiona is heartfelt and sincere as she thanks everyone for their support, presence, and praises the people that have helped them be able to make this final record, including the mental health services – a snapshot into what they have been through making this music. We hear the emotive ‘Removal of Hope’, fittingly the last song off Ephrya and the last song they may make as a band.

It feels a real shame for this to be the final curtain on Woman’s Hour, especially after the struggles they’ve had to get here, but this is the very end; it’s been a sweet farewell.

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Sarah Starkey

I am a Freelance Writer who is a bit music obsessive. Previously written for the likes of Music Vita and Planet Ivy. Life highlights include winning £2.50 on the Euro-millions.