The Piece Hall: How historic venue is 'upping the game' by booking Noel Gallagher and Tom Jones

A culture shift is gaining ground in the idyllic Italienette quarter at Halifax's Piece Hall, under agreements which could see it host some of the biggest known acts worldwide.

By Ruby Kitchen
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 11:00 am

The hall's charitable trust last month signed a five-year deal with one of the nation's most influential promoters, Cuffe & Taylor, and the team that brought Britney Spears to Scarborough.

Now, under promise of a weighty contacts book, all eyes in the Northern music scene have settled firmly on Calderdale, to see what's next under this historic setting's meteoric rise.

To chief executive of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson, they're just "upping the game". It was always the ambition, she said, to have world class artists on this stage.

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Halifax's Piece Hall is welcoming acts such as Noel Gallagher and Tom Jones this summer

The difference is in who. So far, she smiled, she's been told she absolutely must bring Bruce Springsteen. Someone else wanted Liam Gallagher, then Noel, and finally to reunite Oasis.

"Halifax has its own musical taste," she said. "I would say if Halifax is anything, it's very cool. A cool music scene. We are probably more NME than Smash Hits.

"Halifax is very proud of its Piece Hall," she added. "This was something people dreamed about but now it's happening.

“That doesn't mean we want to forget our roots or our independent artists."

Ms Chance-Thompson is immovable on this. Her vision is in hosting "iconic acts", like Paloma Faith, supported by bands like The Lottery Winners or Embrace.

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Then creating a more diverse mix, adding classical and opera, and ensuring emerging artists, local artists, support major acts on stage. This is a town with a "rich talent", she said, and a proud history of independent venues like the Square Chapel Arts Centre.

"We will continue our role in that, it's really important that we are able to support venues here to write their own stories," she said.

The Grade 1 listed Piece Hall is the last remaining Georgian cloth hall in the world, dubbed the 'sole survivor’ of its 18th century textile past as a trading centre for Yorkshire's mills.

Reopened by The Piece Hall Trust in 2017, it has since welcomed over 8m visitors, and is now renowned for its independent shops and restaurants, cultural, art and music events.

This year’s ‘Live at The Piece Hall’ will see Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paul Weller, Paloma Faith, Tom Jones, and Primal Scream, with Ibiza Classics from Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra.

Peter Taylor is founder of Cuffe & Taylor, part of Live Nation, and the man credited with bringing Bryan Adams and Christina Aguilera to Scarborough's Open Air Theatre this summer.

This is a different venue, on a different scale, he insists. The "only venue of its kind in the world".

He said: "I can send a picture to an artist's manager and immediately it piques their interest. They say 'what is this place, it's incredible'.

"This isn't just another venue on a summer tour. If you want a special show, this is what you want."

His ambition for The Piece Hall, he said, is "to keep it fresh", creating "experiences" such as a special play for a whole album or more intimate gigs in the setting's vinyl records store.

"It's not always about the biggest acts in the world, it's about having the acts that relate to the audience," he said.

"We are going to bring big names to Halifax. We want to punch above our weight - to get Halifax on the music map even more than it is.

"And we want to give the people of Halifax, especially musicians, their play on the stage - this is their home turf."

Independent findings report that in the first two years after The Piece Hall reopened in 2017, it generated £26m into the local economy, more than repaying the £22m invested in its transformation.

Ms Chance-Thompson said: "I've found with artists, they are captivated by the building. There's something really special about playing somewhere steeped in history, against such a backdrop.

"The Piece Hall holds its own magic. With what we have delivered and what we've achieved, I'm really excited about what The Piece Hall can do - not just for Halifax and for the region in future."