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Preview: Orlando Weeks at Union Chapel

PUBLISHED: 17:04 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 30 November 2018

Orlando Weeks performs The Gritterman at his Union Chapel show in December 2017. Picture: Joshua Atkins.

Orlando Weeks performs The Gritterman at his Union Chapel show in December 2017. Picture: Joshua Atkins.

Archant

The former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks comes to Union Chapel in December for two intimate concerts which tell the story of his debut novel: The Gritterman.

Weeks joins up with Paul Whitehouse as the pair return to Union Chapel for two shows on December 10 and 11.Weeks joins up with Paul Whitehouse as the pair return to Union Chapel for two shows on December 10 and 11.

Backed by the majesty of a choir together with a live band, Weeks will be joined by narrator Paul Whitehouse – who has so naturally taken to the role of his Gritterman character – in two performances on December 10 and 11, one year after the only previous performance of The Gritterman was gloriously received by those present.

“Last year’s concert was very special, it’s going to be a real pleasure trying to recreate that atmosphere,” says Weeks, who talks with a soft and thoughtful tone consistent with the lyrics he so skilfully put together in his time with The Maccabees.

“I wasn’t really sure how it was going to work – I’d never done a performance like that where it’s an hour of music straight through, with no chapter headings as such. There was a different kind of concentration required (compared to Maccabees gigs) but it felt really good.”

Weeks developed his idea for The Gritterman after his band mutually agreed to call it a day in 2016. Weaving together all of his creative talents – he is the author, illustrator and singer/songwriter of the accompanying album – the story is about a widower who grits roads in the depths of winter while all around him are fast asleep.

The Gritterman was written and illustrated by Weeks, and released in 2017. Picture: Orlando Weeks.The Gritterman was written and illustrated by Weeks, and released in 2017. Picture: Orlando Weeks.

After receiving notice from the council that he is surplus to requirements – on Christmas Eve, no less – the story follows The Gritterman on his final night shift, while the audio version is a mix of music and poignant narration from Whitehouse.

The concerts at Union Chapel will bring the whole thing together, and Weeks says he feels “very lucky to be able to do it again.”

“I thought maybe we might do it once, but to do it more is exciting, as is the chance to spend some time working with the musicians that are in The Gritterman band.

“I’ve been in a bit of a bubble this year while working on a new record, so to step out of it and in to something that feels familiar has been nice.

The former Maccabees frontman studied Illustration at the University of Brighton. Picture: Orlando Weeks.The former Maccabees frontman studied Illustration at the University of Brighton. Picture: Orlando Weeks.

“With the live shows, we go straight through – it’s almost an hour of continuous music. We’re trying to create an atmosphere that can sustain everyone’s attention and give a platform for Paul as the narrator in his performance.”

After the two dates in London, The Gritterman heads to Manchester’s Albert Hall for another concert on Wednesday, December 12.

A key feature of last year’s live show and the story of The Gritterman as a whole has been the balance between music and spoken extracts from Whitehouse, and Weeks is looking forward to working with the actor once more.

“Part of the reason for doing this is to spend a bit more time with Paul. Getting those knowing looks from him in the pulpit – there’s something in that. I feel very lucky that he’s there and lending his really special talent to what it is that we’re doing.”

The Gritterman at Union Chapel is on December 10 and 11. For more details and tickets, click here.

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