With shows from Madness, UB40, Queens of the Stone Age and The War on Drugs last week – and legendary Sting, iconic James and chart-bothering George Ezra, to name a few still to come, the Summer Series at The Piece Hall in Halifax is setting new standards in live entertainment.
The Piece Hall’s partnership with Cuffe & Taylor is breathing life into the town and there is an audible buzz on the streets whenever there’s a show on.
Last weekend saw shows from chart-topping Rag ‘n’ Bone Man on Friday and first family of music The Jacksons on the Saturday – both bringing in different capacity audiences to create party atmospheres in this stunning Grade II listed building, that can also be seen being blown up in the new Marvel series starring Samuel L Jackson ‘Secret Invasion’.
Friday’s show began calmly with a set of beautiful songs from Californian Jensen McRae, who’s simple acoustic set up and soothing voice made her politically themed lyrics delivered in a folky-pop manner a perfect start to proceedings.
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man may seem like a giant, and his face-tattoos may give some people the wrong first impression, but he comes across as one of the nicest, humblest performers in the business.
He genuinely looked shocked and happy to be playing in front of this audience, who sang loudly to every single song and welcomed the newer unheard material with open arms. Admitting to being a bit emotional at the size of the crowd on his first visit to Halifax. His voice never faltered throughout and gave many goosebumps with its authenticity.
The set built throughout the evening with some of the most soulful sounding music ever to ring out around the open courtyard, with hits like Human and Giant closing out an emotional rollercoaster of a show in an upbeat manner.
Saturday had even more of a party atmosphere with The Real Thing opening things up and sounding incredible. Closing with the brilliant ‘You to Me are Everything’ and ‘Can You Feel the Force’ they warmed up an already warm audience (it was a roasting day) for the next act Sister Sledge to take things up a notch and raise temperatures even higher with what sounded like one long medley of bangers.
With a great and energetic band behind them the Queens of Disco delivered hit after hit after hit and the pure joy on the faces of the crowd was incredible to see. Everybody Dance, The Greatest Dancer, Frankie, Good Times and a true medley that saw Lost in Music run into Le Freak into Rocksteady into Freedom and finishing with Shout! Kept the tempo high throughout and closer We Are Family was just a pure celebration.
It’s unfortunate that after Sister Sledge had slayed, that The Jacksons, although putting on a great show, seemed to be less energetic and the occasional sound problem seemed to kill the momentum slightly.
There’s absolutely no question that they have some of the best songs in history, and they still have the moves and stage presence to put on a hell of a show, it just fell a bit flat on this particular occasion.
Can You Feel It, Blame it on the Boogie and Rock With You make for a great start, and halfway through the 12 song set ‘I’ll Be There’ provides an incredible singalong moment with Halifax sounding in beautiful voice.
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For a full image gallery of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man click here.
For a full image gallery of The Jacksons click here.