Michael Kiwanuka – Live Review – The Piece Hall, Halifax

Michael Kiwanaku Live Review Piece Hall Halifax

By Steve Crabtree, June 2024

Until he was announced as a headliner at the Piece Hall, Michael Kiwanuka wasn’t an artist I’d ever heard of. He’s won awards, he’s been around for the best part of a decade, but he was a new one on me.

I have a couple of friends who really like him though. So, on their recommendation, I joined them in Halifax – just a few days shy of his performance on the Glastonbury stage – to see what he was all about.

Now, this was a rainy one. Torrential rain, with “fat raindrops” as my friends and I called them.  We were drenched in the Piece Hall, but there were so many people transfixed on Michael Kiwanuka, that the weather didn’t matter.  I guess, for some, the rain added to the evening.

Michael Kiwanaku Live Review Piece Hall Halifax

“Spiritually electronic”

‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ was a beautiful opener that warmed hearts and spirits, before the upbeat ‘You Aint The Problem’ and ‘Rolling’ turned the appreciative crowd into one that could dance a little too.  He was so well received, and this was by an audience whose age seemingly ranged from their early 20s to their late 60s.

My first impressions?  Very good!  This very spiritually electronic sound is great live. And you could imagine some of it being lapped up at Woodstock in ‘69. The way the guitar distortion works alongside the keys, tribal beats and percussion; and wonderful backing singers show why Michael Kiwanuka’s music is making waves with lots of people.

Lianne La Havas joined Michael Kiwanuka on stage for ‘Rule The World’ and made a mark on the show. Then ‘Madness’ was nicely performed for what’s thought to be the first time live.

Michael Kiwanaku Live Review Piece Hall Halifax

“The best voice I’ll hear this year”

Michael Kiwanuka is a man of little words between songs. But that doesn’t matter. Because his singing…well, I think I could have listened to the best voice I’ll hear all year tonight. The richness of his vocal is sublime, and it hits you. With the incredible sound system of The Piece Hall, the most powerful instrument on that stage was Kiwanuka’s voice.  Whether it’s a softer flow or a more hard-hitting bellow, he’s got something special there.

In all, we had 16 songs. I liked ‘I’m Getting Ready’ and ‘Final Days’.  ‘Hero’ was beautiful and laid back, as was ‘Solid Ground’, where Kiwanuka was illuminated as he took to the keyboards.

I enjoyed the night.  I’m a person who prefers to be familiar with what I’m watching and listening to when it comes to live music. But on occasions, I like having something thrown at me that’s brand new to my ears. And watching Micahel Kiwanuka was one of those well-worthy occasions.

The rain could have absolutely washed the night away. But the few thousand people in the Piece Hall were having none of that. They were there at the start, and were there for the encore pairing of ‘Cold Little Heart’ and Love & Hate’ too.

Thankfully, I’m all dried out now. But it has to be said that, once again, Halifax has been handed another brilliant show as part of the brilliant summer series from The Piece Hall.

Images: The Piece Hall/Cuffe & Taylor


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