Union Chapel’s alternative Christmas shows
07 December, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab
Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks and comedian Paul Whitehouse
IF you are looking for a Christmas show but a panto is just not for you, The Union Chapel’s December programme has all varieties of festive concerts on offer.
From the story of The Gritterman by former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks and featuring comedian Paul Whitehouse, to Christmas folk songs with Cara Dillon and traditional carols with choirmaster Gareth Malone – as well as a sold-out charity concert from Liam Gallagher – the revered Upper Street venue has captured the festive vibe in many different ways.
Here’s a selection of what’s coming up…
Daylight Music, That Fuzzy Feeling: The Ho-Ho-Horns, Jonathan Hering, wiaiwya Stars album launch (with Whoa Melodic & The Catenary Wires) and Hannah Lawrence, 12 noon, pay what you can (suggested £5). Enjoy a lazy afternoon with music, tea and cake. An event for all ages. Produced by Arctic Circle. Daylight Music, the Union Chapel’s series of Saturday afternoon pay-what-you-can concerts draws to a close with a selection of performances starting with the launch of Stars, a new seasonal compilation album of what they promise are future Christmas classics from the wiaiwya label featuring The Catenary Wires – Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey (ex-Heavenly, Talulah Gosh etc), who will be evolving into a four-piece, with Fay Hallam and Andy Lewis. They will be followed by Whoa Melodic, the solo project (and anagram) of Michael Wood (Michaelmas/Singing Adams/Hayman Kupa Band), and then Liverpool’s Jonathan Hering, who presents his debut solo album Carmina Chromatico, featuring 12 polyphonic vocal tracks all sung by Jonathan. Then expect a seasonal serenade from The Ho-Ho-Horns, made up of players from the Guildhall Horn Ensemble and horn octet Cor8, coached by renowned composer, arranger and horn player Richard Bissill, who’ll be performing music from the London Horn Sound as well as some festive tunes. The afternoon will end with Hannah Lawrence invoking Christmas on the chapel’s historic organ, with such tunes as Fairytale of New York, I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day, Frosty the Snowman, 2000 Miles and Stop the Calvary.
Christmas Market, 1pm, free. Mulled wine and stalls, arts and crafts and Santa – stop off at the Sunday School Hall for a little Christmas shopping in between gigs. All money raised will go towards Union Chapel and repairing the Sunday School Hall to create a new space for contemporary community use.
Winter Warmers at 2pm: The Snowman with live score by East London Brass. A free screening of the children’s classic made even more magical with live score performed by East London Brass – complete with mince pies and mulled wine.
DECEMBER 10 + 11
The Gritterman, 7pm, £39.50. Former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks reprises his debut book The Gritterman and its companion album. Joined by Paul Whitehouse as The Gritterman, Weeks will recreate the album with the backing of a full band and choir.
Shelter’s Annual Christmas gig featuring Liam Gallagher, 7pm, £40 ticket by ballot. Liam Gallagher performs a stripped-back acoustic set in aid of homeless charity Shelter at this sold-out show.
Cara Dillon, Upon A Winter’s Night, 7pm, £25. Irish folk singer Cara Dillon tours her Christmas show Upon A Winter’s Night for a third year running as she and her band capture the essence of Christmas with a collection of songs ancient and modern.
Carols by candlelight, 6pm, free. A carol service, with traditional carols for all to sing, readings and musical contributions from Union Chapel Singers, Claudina Edwards, and Masashi Fujimoto. Ben Comeau plays the chapel’s world-famous organ. With a service led by Vaughan Jones.
DECEMBER 17 + 20
Rick Wakeman: Christmas Piano Odyssey Tour, 7pm, £40. Following his Piano Portraits tour last year in support of the album of the same name, Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman returns with a new show based on the follow-up release, Piano Odyssey. Expect a seasonal twist to the setlist, which will include a selection of tracks from both Piano Odyssey and Piano Portraits, all accompanied by Wakeman’s memories and anecdotes.
George Ezra & Friends in Aid of Mind, 7pm, £65. George Ezra plays the second of his annual special events at the Union Chapel in aid of mental health charity Mind. George will be joined by a number of hand-picked special guest friends and performers, to be announced.
DECEMBER 21 & 22
Celebrate Christmas with Gareth Malone and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, 7pm, £35 adv/ £25 for groups of six or more. Expect an evening of festive cheer with a carefully curated programme of carols, singalongs and arrangements of Christmas favourites.