Halifax’s Piece Hall has had a rich history in the cloth trade since 1779, cumulating in it being revitalised through a £19m investment in 2017.
On a warm May Bank Holiday weekend, the only weaving that the new venue was witnessing was one of a stellar musical line-up being perfectly entwined.
The tragic and untimely loss of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison leading up to the event could have resulted in the band’s absence from the festival being a maudlin affair, but far from it, tributes were heartfelt and celebratory.
Headliner Father John Misty has steadily built a strong and dedicated following through his American folk rock tinged three solo albums. Prior to embarking on an extensive worldwide tour to support his imminent fourth effort, God’s Favourite Customer, Misty brought his usual swagger to the Piece Hall. The man possesses a voice that can fill most venues so Yorkshire’s finest piazza was no challenge.
Misty’s sets build, from the innocuous low key entrance through to the microphone waving flamboyance, and now regular contains string and brass sections providing depth and majesty to the tracks.
From openers Nancy From Now On and Chateau Lobby #4, on which the Spanish tinged brass was the perfect accompaniment, through to new tracks Mr Tillman and Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All, Misty delved into his back catalogue giving airings to earlier album tracks such as Only Son of the Ladiesman, a sign of confidence in front of an audience that weren’t there solely for his set.
Highlights were how the favourites of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Pure Comedy and I Love You, Honeybear haven’t been tarnished from their overuse, but rather have new arrangements, a new level of exuberance and ebullience that contrasts perfectly with the acoustic, more reflective numbers.
Prior to Misty’s appearance Edwyn Collins had produced a set which being slightly slow to hit full speed, when it did through the Orange Juice classic Rip it Up, ignited. With the late afternoon sun slowly disappearing, the crowd fully engaged with this and set closer A Girl Like You, Collins leaving the set early to allow his superb band to take the plaudits.
Before a minute applause for the afternoon’s fallen hero Hutchison, Leeds’s own Hookworms had provided a more intense and rawer interjection to proceedings. Through frontman Matthew Johnson’s demonic stares and bellowed vocals, the band’s fraught, vigorous fuzz electronic sound hit Halifax right between the eyes.
Tracks from the bands third album Microshift stand out, the energy displayed through their tumultuous set list was infectious. Ullswater and Each Time We Pass convey the sort of ardour and fervour that meant that their place second on the line-up in the mid-afternoon slot was a stroke of genius.
The day’s openers The Orielles weren’t going to miss the opportunity to open The Piece Hall’s first major music event, hailing as they do from the town. The young band’s debut Silver Dollar Moment belies their young age, the indie pop tunes hanging from lead vocalist Esme-Dee Hand-Halford’s thundering bass rhythms.
Tracks such as 48 Percent and Old Stuff, New Glass caught more than just the attention of the day’s early crowd, the perfect opening band to an afternoon of live music in a stunning venue that now it’s a proven success can look forward to a bright new future weaving a new kind of magic.