Embrace – Live Review – The Piece Hall, Halifax
By @Steve Crabtree, June 2019
There was me and there were a few friends, all Halifax born and bred. We’d heard Embrace were going to headline a gig at The Piece Hall in our (and their) hometown. And we all wanted to there.
People had said for years that The Piece Hall would make the perfect gig venue, and after a stellar refurbishment over the last few years, it’s becoming a special kind of place. Large scale events are starting to happen, and people are beginning to notice a change in what’s going on in our town.
But what we weren’t expecting on that hot Friday was the day to go-off in such awesome fashion as it did. And when trying to write a review about how Embrace performed, well… it’s proved to be a little difficult. Because this turned in to a day that was more than just a sell-out gig. It turned in to something pretty special for anyone and everyone who was a part of it.
“A buzz going round the town”
We woke up to a cloudless sky. It was baking hot, and t-shirts, shorts and sunglasses were the order of the day. My friends and I decided to head out early, meeting up at The Grayston Unity bar in the town centre. As we descended on Halifax, thousands of other Haligonians had the same idea as us. There was this buzz going round the town that I couldn’t remember it ever having before.
If you follow the social media hashtag #shoreditchofthenorth you’ll get much of what the new scene in Halifax is all about. Independent bars and food outlets, stunning art and architecture – it’s a town on the up. Throw an up-and-coming music scene in to the mix. Then put the Piece Hall in there and you’ve got the jewel in the #shoreditchofthenorth crown.
We got in to a Piece Hall baked in sunshine, and we’d walked into this atmosphere. A massive good-feel vibe reverberating around the place. Every single man, woman and child was in the kind of spirit that you couldn’t fail to be sucked into. All the good good people of Halifax had come down to see Embrace’s homecoming gig. Which was just so much more than that.
“The day something changed in Halifax”
As the place filled up, you bumped in to people you’ve not seen for ages. People you’d seen yesterday. You probably bumped into people that you didn’t really know that well, but you were just pleased to see.
This Embrace gig was the day something changed in Halifax. This town that we all wanted to be proud of, but which didn’t really have anything stand-out to its name. But here, and now in this amazing venue, this is what we wanted Halifax to be. It felt like something had suddenly arrived. Perhaps one of the best days in the town’s history.
As for the gig… well, it was a massive hit. Embrace pulled out a performance for Halifax that they might never match again. They risked it a bit by having support acts like Sleeper and Reverend and the Makers on before them. Two groups who well and truly delivered on the night. But it was Embrace’s evening, and they certainly starred.
“Entire Calder Valley must have heard the noise”
They performed The Good Will Out album in its entirety, celebrating the 21st anniversary of its release. There was a big smile on the face of front man Danny McNamara as they opened with ‘All You Good Good People’, and took us through the rest of the record track by track. ‘I Want The World’ and ‘Come Back to What You Know’ went down a storm. The whole of the Piece Hall joined loudly on that one and the entire Calder Valley must have heard us.
The huge encore included two renditions of ‘Ashes.’ It gave us confetti cannons galore, and some of the most Instagram-able sights you’ll ever see at an outdoor concert. The Halifax band had Halifax on their side, and there was just this whole feeling to the night that even the most wordsmithiest of reviewers could struggle to describe accurately.
Although this was Embrace’s gig, it was definitely Halifax’s night. And day. It’s perhaps the point where the ‘#Shoreditchofthenorth’ becomes a memory. And our town finally grabbed hold of it’s own identity, putting Halifax as a town on a new level. One in the eye for the nay-sayers who fail to see the delight of good things happening in Halifax. And a big victory for the Piece Hall.
And if anyone at the Piece Hall is reading, a whole summer season of live music gigs is a must for the place in the future. In the near future. If they hadn’t already done so, the people of Halifax fell fully in love with the place on that Friday night. And there’s a whole list of bands and artists who’ll all do the same when they play there.
If you were there for Embrace, you’ll remember that day for a long time.