Live At The Piece Hall: CEO reveals three more huge names who have been approached to perform at the iconic Halifax venue

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It's that time of year again when Halifax sees more stars than the Royal Observatory.

Live At The Piece Hall will see the town host another jaw-dropping line-up of live music throughout the summer, including Blondie, Tom Jones and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

In fact, there are so many big names on this year's list that even Nicky Chance-Thompson, CEO of the Piece Hall, struggles to keep track.

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"It's unbelievable. If anyone asks me, I can't remember all of them!" she said.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, CEO of The Piece HallNicky Chance-Thompson, CEO of The Piece Hall
Nicky Chance-Thompson, CEO of The Piece Hall

"And then I kick myself because I've often forgotten someone really important.

"You've got Air, you've got Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher coming back, then you've got Jungle, who are incredible, Bryan Adams, Cheryl Crow, Grace Jones, you're like 'wow!'.

"Chic coming back, I love Nile Rodgers, Blondie, Placebo, The Stranglers, Michael Kiwanuka - I don't think anyone can complain that there isn't something for everyone!"

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This year will see the most gigs so far for Live At The Piece Hall, which Nicky says will benefit the iconic building and businesses around it.

Tom Jones is one of the stars to have performed at The Piece Hall. Photo by Cuffe and Taylor/The Piece Hall TrustTom Jones is one of the stars to have performed at The Piece Hall. Photo by Cuffe and Taylor/The Piece Hall Trust
Tom Jones is one of the stars to have performed at The Piece Hall. Photo by Cuffe and Taylor/The Piece Hall Trust

"Times are hard for hospitality and I saw that was going to worsen, so we took a strategic decision to do more gigs this year because we make reasonable money from the concerts," she said.

"We don't make millions, like people may think, but we make reasonable money from them, so it was a good decision as it turned out.

"It's great for us because it helps sustain us but also, it's great for the town because all the businesses, shops and hotels all benefit from us having more concerts.

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"The town comes alive and the more we have, the better for the lifeblood of the town, so it's the right decision."

The stage for this year's concerts at the Piece Hall is already under constructionThe stage for this year's concerts at the Piece Hall is already under construction
The stage for this year's concerts at the Piece Hall is already under construction

Another summer of stars performing to sell-out crowds will only reinforce the Piece Hall's sky-rocketing reputation as a music venue.

"When the BBC say 'is this hidden gem the best music venue in the UK?', our answer to that is we think so," Nicky says.

"We clearly have got attention for all the right reasons.

"It's an amazing building, which we're lucky to have in Halifax, and you get to experience tremendous artists. There's no feeling like it in the world.

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Pictured in the queue for last year's George Ezra gig at The Piece Hall are, from the left, Tracy Collins, Gary Ambler, Hetti Mason, eight, Paul Collins, Emma Mason and Lindsey AmblerPictured in the queue for last year's George Ezra gig at The Piece Hall are, from the left, Tracy Collins, Gary Ambler, Hetti Mason, eight, Paul Collins, Emma Mason and Lindsey Ambler
Pictured in the queue for last year's George Ezra gig at The Piece Hall are, from the left, Tracy Collins, Gary Ambler, Hetti Mason, eight, Paul Collins, Emma Mason and Lindsey Ambler

"There's something magical about it. It makes you feel proud to be here, proud to be in Halifax, having all these legends come and grace the stage and say how much they love the town and the area too."

"The film and TV side has helped, having Samuel L Jackson here and all the work Sally (Wainwright) has done, that's really got us on the map too.

"But the concerts give us that sustained time on the map because there's a curiosity it's created with people.

"I was fortunate enough to be invited to a celebration of the creative sector at Buckingham Palace the other week and I was with Lord Mendoza, who said to some of the guests there 'this is Nicky and she runs the best building in Britain, if not the world' and people said 'where is this?'.

"It's the Piece Hall.

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"’Oh gosh, isn't that the place where you have all those concerts in that amazing building?’"

"If I go back seven years, people would say 'Piece what'?, 'where?', 'what's that?'.

"But there was a garden full of people from the sector saying 'isn't that the amazing place that does x, y and z?'

"I think as a town we've got a lot to be proud of."

Nicky revealed that Bruce Spingsteen, Lionel Richie and Take That were approached to perform there, but as yet, haven't been persuaded.

And it's Bruce Springsteen that is top of Nicky's wishlist.

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"He's the one that I'd really love to bring here," she said. "We've not managed to secure him yet but he'd be the dream.

"All we can do is keep asking."

As well as The Boss, what else might the future have in store for Live at The Piece Hall?

"We want to always have more diverse artists and help bring others to the fore, particularly emerging artists and that they get the chance to perform here," Nicky said.

"But what I'm seeing is there's no shortage of appetite for what we're doing and people seem to want more of it.

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"We're pretty much sold out for the series, which is a complete contrast to festivals or other things having to close, sadly.

"For now, we seem to be bucking that trend.

"We can't afford to be complacent, so each time we look at the programme we have to look at the market and what people are wanting, and who are the new, fabulous artists we can approach.

"You always have to be agile enough to understand when change is needed.

"This is the biggest number of concerts we've had yet and we want to make sure we can deliver it well.

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"If there continues to be appetite for this number of concerts and calibre of artists, bearing in mind we do want to do more diverse acts over time, then we'll carry on doing it."

The Piece Hall's transformation into an iconic music venue has been a huge success story for the town.

"There is something about Halifax. It's the fact you've got this beautiful landscape of Calderdale we're so blessed with, the greenery of Yorkshire around us," Nicky said.

"And in a town rather than a city.

"There's an intimacy with the artists, there's an intimacy with the town and the building that perhaps gets lost in bigger spaces or bigger places.

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"I think people really like that connection, and it's helped build a fascination with the town.

"The tourism numbers are growing, through a combination of things we're doing.

"And it's not just a place people want to visit anymore, it's a place where people want to set-up business. They want to live here and work here.

"I think this has been a dream for a lot of people for a long time.

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"A group of people made sure the Piece Hall survived and wasn't demolished, and those people are as important to the success we have today as the people involved now or the last few years.

"There's always been this love of the Piece Hall, a real want for it to be where it should be, which is on the world stage, never mind the national stage.

"Bit by bit, we hope we're bringing other people's visions and dreams to life.

"I met a lovely lady recently called Mary Crossley, whose husband owned the Crossley Carpets business.

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"She wanted to share her memories of the Piece Hall, and as we went through all her papers and articles, you could see even 30, 40 years ago, she wanted to do some of the things we're doing now.

"Albeit different, because the times are different, but the essence and the spirit of what Mary and others like her wanted to do here are the same.

"She's been so delighted that all the dreams and ideas she had have come to life all these years on."

Live At The Piece Hall might be the headline act, but Nicky says she is just as passionate about other projects that help promote Halifax's cultural contribution

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"As well as the concerts, we're also committed to the future of arts and culture in the region and developing the next generation of creatives under the Piece Hall Academy," she said.

"Erik Griggs, from Dr Dre's stable, came over and taught some of the students at Calderdale College with the Calderdale Music Trust, and we're going to continue that.

"Erik's committed to being part of our journey, loved Halifax.

"This is a guy who lives in LA, worked with Dr Dre, and we were sat in a board meeting and he said 'I go to places all over the world but this feels like my second home'.

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"That's coming from the Quincy Jones of his generation. Haifax really got under his skin and into his heart.

"We're helping to find that new generation of artists in Calderdale and to me, that's really exciting."