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Review: Lead singer of chart-topping band back in Norwich with a new sound

PUBLISHED: 13:57 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:57 11 March 2020

Orlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve Hunt

Orlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve Hunt

Steve Hunt

In a parallel universe this gig didn’t even happen.

Orlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve HuntOrlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve Hunt

In a parallel universe, The Maccabees, for whom Orlando Weeks was the frontman, followed up their number one album and triumphant headlining performance at Latitude Festival by cementing their rightful place as one of the UK's biggest bands, before conquering the world.

In a parallel universe gigs at Norwich Arts Centre are a far cry from the size of venues Weeks and co will appear at again. they're just too darn big.

But in this universe, The Maccabees followed up that album and gig by surprising everyone, deciding they couldn't top it, jacking it all in and going their seperate ways.

To the shock of their growing legion of fans (this one included) Weeks went off to compile a best-selling illustrated children's book, fellow band member Felix White became a cricket analyser and the rest? Who knows.

Orlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve HuntOrlando Weeks headlining Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve Hunt

But recently Weeks had another surprise in store for his fans, by announcing he was ready to go again, already has a new band in tow and a new album on its way and that he and his three fellow members were to hit the road to give it a play.

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Fortunately one of those stop-offs is Norwich Arts Centre where a supportive, if a little on the small side, crowd awaits, intrigued to hear what Weeks has in store.

Prior to Tuesday night's gig, just one of his new tracks, a slow, tender and beautiful song called Safe In Sound has been put on release, making this a real voyage of discovery for those present. And it's all the more thrilling because of it.

William Doyle supporting Orlando Weeks at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve HuntWilliam Doyle supporting Orlando Weeks at Norwich Arts Centre. Picture: Steve Hunt

Those wanting to hear a new version of The Maccabees would have left disappointed, as the only thing left from Weeks' previous role is that stunning, raw and emotion-laden voice of his, which remains as distinctive and unique as it ever was.

Instead, we are treated to an hour of what you might describe as modern jazz, his vocals accompanied by thrilling beats one minute, poignant and dark trumpet the next.

Weeks, who stays in the background for much of the set, as if he doesn't want his presence to detract from the music, reminds me a little of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke when he carries out his own solo gigs, lost in the music, his head swaying and body moving with the beats.

On first listen his new stuff is unique, emotional, tender and thrilling. It's a very welcome return.

* My Spotify has been busy since Tuesday night's gig also checking out solo support act William Doyle, another whose voice would stop you in your tracks. Lovely ballads backed up with original lyrics and interesting musical experimentations.

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