Review + Photography by Frank Ralph

The venue for today’s musical treats isn’t strictly a venue – it’s actually a Grade 1 listed eighteenth century northern cloth hall – and is absolutely stunning – having recently undergone a massive restoration project. The Piece Hall in Halifax proved to be a perfect setting, with its absolutely unique architecture for some absolutely unique music and as it’s outdoors, gives the whole day a mini-festival vibe.

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Opening the day’s festivities – in the thankfully glorious sunshine – were local band The Orielles. From the outset their quirky and off-kilter indie gets everyone going. They wear their influences on their sleeves with a Sub Pop styling at their core. With a 45-minute set to showcase themselves they really impressed. If you’re festival bound at all this summer you’re pretty certain to catch them, as they seem to be on at pretty much every single one. You should too. Fantastic stuff with great energy and something you can really get lost in.

The Orielles

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Leeds band Hookworms were up next with their psychedelic noise and they were startlingly good. They sounded huge in this setting, intense and gloriously euphoric at times, off-kilter and scuzzy at others. With lyrics covering tough subjects such as body image, death and heartbreak I’d been warned they were a bit of an acquired taste, but I found them thoroughly enjoyable. Latest album Microshift is well worth a listen and is apparently their most accessible work to date. I’ll be checking them out much more after their brilliant set today.

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The next band on the bill was originally meant to be Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit, but rather than replace the band in the light of Scott Hutchison’s recent death the promoters instead gave the other bands longer sets and took the time that the band should have been on to commemorate his life with a minute of applause before playing both a Frightened Rabbit and Mastersystem songs from the stage. It made for a touching moment from friends of Scott who are still coming to terms with the loss of a friend and incredible musician.

Applause

It formed a big part of the day with both The Orielles dedicating Sunflower Seed to Scott and MJ from Hookworms reading a passionate and personal statement about how Scott’s music had saved and inspired him before they began their set. Andy’s Man Club were also present all day collecting for the Male Suicide Prevention movement.

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After the initial shock of seeing indie hero Edwyn Collins walk on stage, slowly with the aid of a walking stick, and a quick Google to see why, it felt like a miracle to have him there. In 2005 he suffered not one but 2 massive strokes that left him unable to speak. He took a seat on an amp at the front of the stage and proceeded to play a set full of classics from his back catalogue from his Orange Juice days through to present day. Although he kept between song chatter to a bare minimum, simply introducing the song title, his singing voice seemed to be unimpaired and with the crowd dancing away to Rip It Up and Blue Boy everybody was having a great time. None however more than his guitarist on the absolute banger Girl Like You. He was having the time of his life up there and his whammy bar definitely took a pasting during the set closer.

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Headliner Father John Misty knows how to make a cool entrance. With his ensemble of string and brass backing musicians warming up on stage he appeared walking around the top level of the Piece Hall towards the stage with the rest of his band members in tow.

Other than a very slight technical issue two songs in the clarity of the sound in the open air venue was impeccable. The epicness of the compositions being played was fitting for the surroundings and by all accounts rang out across the town for all to hear.

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There wasn’t much in the way between song chatter other than FJM stating how beautiful a night it was and how much of a banger Bored in the USA is. We agreed, it was definitely a highlight of the 20-song set.

With such a prolific history of music to choose from tracks like Pure Comedy and I Love You, Honeybear pick themselves for any set list but it was the three new tracks – Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All, Please Don’t Die and Just Dumb Enough to Try – from upcoming album God’s Favourite Customer that really shone.

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All in all it was a perfect storm of venue and music and weather that created a memorable event. Hopefully the success of it means that it will be the first of many to be held at The Piece Hall in the future.

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See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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