Gary Barlow kicks off charity gig series in Hackney

Pic: Press shot

X-Factor judge Gary Barlow kicked off a seven night series of acoustic gigs for charity in Hackney on November 19.

Hosted by the Church of St. John-at-Hackney, the week featured performances from 2012 Mercury prize nominee The Maccabees, Amy McDonald, Noah & The Whale and more.

The gigs were called Little Noise Sessions, and were started in 2006 by the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children & Adults (MENCAP) and Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley.

MENCAP works to provide support for people with learning disabilities, their families and their carers.

Whiley, whose sister has learning disabilities, is an ambassador for the charity.

She made the decision to move the sessions from Islington Union Chapel to St. John-at-Hackney last year, partly due to the growing demand for tickets.

Church of St. John-at-Hackney. Pic: Sophie Robinson-Tillett

Whiley told Eastlondonlines that the church is an intimate space which provides a special experience for both the artist and the audience.

She said: “Little Noise attracts a lot of big names, many of whom are used to playing big stadiums. Being so close to the audience, artists know that every note counts. You only have to see the sheer elation when they come offstage to know that it’s once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

She is “thrilled” that Barlow headlined this year and said his performance made for a “very special evening.”

“Gary has always said that he would really love to do it, but we never quite managed to get a date in the diary. He’s such a busy man, so I was thrilled when he said he’d headline for us this year, especially as he’s right in the middle of his own tour. I’m so grateful. It’s incredibly generous of him.

“I’m always incredibly grateful to the artists who perform, without fee, for the charity. It’s very humbling.”

Whiley said this year, like all others, was “full of surprises”.

Information about tickets for Little Noise Sessions can be found at

For more information on Mencap visit

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