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The Possibilities are Endless....

A major event in Halifax, and some local pub news....

They came, they saw, they were entertained.'They' were the 3,700 who made their way to Halifax's Piece Hall last Saturday for the first major music event there since its £19 million makeover was completed last year.

Magical...The Piece Hall, Halifax
The gates to the event opened at 4, but having got word that the Orielles, who were on first, weren't on until 5, we stayed for another pint in the sunshine at the Grayston Unity, where the Squawk Pavo was on top form. We made our way to the Piece Hall, where I had to do almost a full circuit to get in! I had paid a bit more for a Premium ticket, which got you a wristband and into more parts of the place, but I quickly decided that I would rather go and see the bands up close, so I headed down to the front and re-joined my mate just as local heroes the Orielles were about to come on. It was only 3 months since I had met the band at their album launch on a cold February day at the Grayston, but today the weather was bright, with warm sun beating down.

The band bounded out on to the stage, joined by a keyboard player, and proceeded to play several tracks from their excellent debut album, 'Silver Dollar Moment', and their shimmering, timeless indie-pop got the day off to a great start. Henry, on lead guitar, is a whirlwind of energy, with Sid on the drums the engine room, and Esme on lead vocals and bass, playing like old pros so that it is very easy to forget how young they are. They closed with a version of one of their older songs, 'Sugar tastes like Salt', after a set of around 40 minutes. Tremendous stuff.

Sounding great...The Orielles open up
An army of bearded and ample-bellied roadies appeared on the stage to unplug and shift gear, and a few minutes later Hookworms emerged to do their sound checks, clearly perfectionists. Finally they were ready, but not before singer and front man MJ read out some words of tribute to Scott Hutchison, the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, who had sadly taken his own life a couple of weeks earlier. FR had been due to appear on the bill, but in the circumstances the decision had been taken by the promoters and the artists themselves that they would each play for a little longer, and there would be a minute's applause at the time they would have started.

A few familiar gurgles, burps, and clanks heralded the start of 'Negative Space', and from there on in the band were relentless; precision drumming, tight rhythms,soaring melodies, as they showcased their latest and excellent album, 'Microshift'. It was another excellent performance, from another band with local connections; not only does MJ's uncle Tony live in Brighouse, but I bumped into an old friend of mine whose daughter is married to MB(they love their initials do these guys!), and who were dog-sitting for them whilst the band rushed off after the gig to their next one in Paris the day after! Very rock and roll....

Hookworms...brilliant stuff
I decided I would take advantage of my premium ticket and headed up on to the walkways above the hall. It was a spectacular view: the huge stage and thousands milling around in the warm sunshine. Next up was Edwyn Collins, a great survivor from the 1980's Edinburgh post-punk band, Orange Juice. Not only that, he suffered a stroke in 2005 which means he suffers restricted movement and walks with a stick. It didn't affect the music, though. He rattled through old favourites like 'Rip it Up', 'Losing Sleep', and 'A Girl like You', supported by a band of superb experienced musicians who were clearly enjoying themselves. Collins, who spent some of the performance seated, looked on like a proud, benign uncle as one after another excellent musical break embellished the set. Well worth seeing if you get the chance. And whilst clearly struggling at times with his condition, it hasn't diminished his work ethic, indeed he has recently produced the latest album by highly-rated indie duo, Tracyanne & Danny.

Excellent...Edwyn Collins and Band
The sun was fading and the temperature dropping as the beards and bellies emerged from the wings to prepare the stage for the changeover for the evening's headline act, Father John Misty. Now I have to admit that I am not a massive fan of the former Fleet Foxes drummer, whose last two albums I have bought on the strength of critical acclaim and been left disappointed. Too samey, not enough change of pace between tracks. I had heard the original first choice to headline had been The Breeders; now that would have been a great kick-ass way to round off the evening! But to be fair, in the fading light, FJM's warm voice helped to create a great chilled vibe in the Piece Hall. I did drift away after about 50 minutes though (a) because I was hungry, (b) because I was cold, and (c) because I wanted a pint before the last bus home! The chips I bought were very welcome, as was the excellent Pomona Island NZ Pale which had come on at the Grayston since we had headed off to the gig earlier on. And it might just be my favourite tap of the moment.

Father John...Misty....
It had been a great event. OK, there were a few issues: not enough food outlets, a very disappointing bar choice, and lengthy queues for the toilets. But there was a great atmosphere, by keeping the capacity to a sensible number there was plenty of room to move around and feel comfortable, the sound was brilliant, and the setting superb. A great effort by the organisers - the Brudenell Social Club, Futuresound Events, and the Piece Hall Trust. And it lays down a marker for future events. To quote Edwyn Collins, 'the possibilities are endless'....
Meanwhile, some local pub stuff.

Down at the Market Tavern in Brighouse, a petition has been set up to campaign against the amount of business rates being charged by Calderdale Council. In short, it  seems that they are being charged as if they are a full-size pub rather than a micro pub, and thus far the Council have refused to review their case. It also seems that there are some inconsistencies in the way business rate relief for pubs is applied, even within the local area. I wish them well, as this is an excellent community local that deserves everyone's support...including the local council.

Also in Brighouse, this weekend saw the annual beer festival at the Beck. I made it down on the Sunday when local super group Blood, Sweat, and Beers were providing the entertainment. Now playing as a 7 piece for much of the gig, with Tom Firth adding an extra dimension on keyboards, they kept us entertained us with an excellent mix of blues and rock. Many of the beers were running off as it was the last day of the festival - Salopian had been and gone yesterday - but I did enjoy a couple of pints of White Rat. As ever, it was a great event for catching up with plenty of friends and people you hadn't seen for a while, and well done to Paul and the team for another great event!

I had a couple of very pleasant pints up at the Cross Keys at Siddal recently. The Abbeydale Moonshine was spot on, which I enjoyed sat out in the sunshine with landlord Hugh, Russ and Francis. Most enjoyable. And on Sunday, 1st July, the afternoon's musical entertainment will be provided by none other than Brighouse's finest bluegrass and Americana band, the Rainey Street Band!

I do a periodic update to my blog about a Calder Valley Ale Trail, as this is one that continues to get a steady stream of visitors, and following the most recent one, a reader got in touch to say that Ramble+Rose in Hebden Bridge was now closed. I was in Hebden the other day, and it turns out that it has closed because the owner suddenly passed away, which is very sad. Understandably, the family took the decision not to carry on with it, and my sincere condolences to them.

I was in Hebden Bridge as I wanted to check out Calan's since Nadine and Damian took over from Alan and Alyson. And I have to say it is very much business as usual, although they have freed up some space in the 'cellar' by switching to vertical storage rather than racking. On the bar, there were old favourites from the likes of Great Heck. I did, though, make a classic schoolboy error, ordering a pint of the heavyweight 5.9% Shankar IPA, and then following up with a half of 4% Trafalgar, rather than the other way round! And they are still stocking the excellent pork pies!

And finally, I tried one of the tacos over at Vocation and Co, which was delicious and made for an ideal accompaniment to the couple of halves of Track I tried, whilst over at Drink? I enjoyed an excellent pint of Cromarty Whiteout.

Until the next time....


  1. Wish I'd been there. Our American cask fans were in the pubs and Piece Hall on Sunday and loved the town.

    Glad you got to see some top music in 'Fax, and it's not just me who doesn't get Father John Misty. Confess I've seen Hookworms a couple of times recently and while still great live, the latest stuff lacks the power of the first two LPs (too much singing !).

    I saw Edwyn at that Deer Shed festival over in Thirsk and rated it in my Top 5 gigs. Very moving (had his son on stage) and a staggeringly good band and sound. Very underrated recent LPs.


    1. Thanks for the reply, RM, glad your friends enjoyed the town, and thanks for the support and kind comments as always!


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