There is an obvious contradiction of seeing these two bands with dark tendencies, in such a bright outdoor location – with The Mission’s Wayne Hussey asking if someone could turn down the big fucking spotlight in the sky at one point. With the sun beaming down intensely it was certainly not ideal weather for goths.
The gathered crowd was treated to what is definitely the most interesting sounds ever heard in this Grade II listed building as the brilliant Lili Refrain opened proceedings. Building huge sonic soundscapes through looping tracks and vocals in the same way Ed Sheeran does, but with so much more epic results. Within the space of a 4-song set, she has the crowd spellbound.
Next up, The Mission took to the stage to a hero’s welcome. With a couple of members of the crowd stood dancing on their friends’ shoulders to welcome them. Apparently, this is a common occurrence at their shows which looks pretty impressive.
With the band going on an extended hiatus very soon we’re running out of chances to see them, which is a real shame because they sound incredible. With nearly 40 years under their belts, it’s not surprising.
Wayne Hussey begins the “Tower of Strength” solo before the rest of the band join him on stage to round out the fuller sound of the song. His voice sounded rich and gothic, and with the setlist being culled mainly from their ’80s and ’90s heyday, they sounded like they were the headliners.
Actual headliners The Cult are a more mainstream-sounding offering, with a more rock focus on display. Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy combine to maximum effect to bash out a set of classics and new stuff that built to a massive crescendo.
Openers “Rise” and later, “Sweet Soul Sister,” sung by every single member of the audience, both sounded immense in the open-air courtyard. With only a smattering of new material on show, it was down to the classic Cult albums to provide the majority of the set, and by the time we reach the set’s inevitable conclusion with “She Sells Sanctuary,” we had been treated to a masterclass of what a great rock band should sound like. Duffy easing into rock god status instantly, and Astbury sounding great too.
“She Sells Sanctuary” obviously enjoys the biggest crowd reaction of the night, with Halifax’s finest lager-fuelled karaoke voices giving it some to close the set to rapturous applause before returning for an encore of “Peace Dog” and “Love Removal Machine.”
The organizers of The Piece Hall’s Summer Series deserve a round of applause for recognizing and rewarding the large rock scene in Halifax with gigs like this, Queens of the Stone Age and Limp Bizkit. It’s a privilege to see these kinds of shows on our doorsteps, in such a wondrous setting. It’s official. Halifax rocks!