Shropshire Star

Fans all smiles for The Halls Wolverhampton preview opening night

Almost 300 people were the first to enjoy music once more at the long-awaited reopening of Wolverhampton's Civic Hall renamed The Halls.

Music fans Grace Lawley, Megan Birt and Ellie Birt, all 17, inside for the first time

Ahead of its official opening next week featuring a sold-out show by Blur, new operator AEG flung open the doors at the venue, revamped to the tune of £40 million, on Friday night with the charity fundraiser Louder preview event.

Hosted by Wolves Records, a record label backed by Wolverhampton Wanderers, it featured six acts; Split The Dealer, Ben Kidson, Reepa, Sophia Saffarian, ES and Roux.

Singer ES (Emma Styles) from Worcester

The show got off to a slow start due to minor PA issues, but the spread-out audience soon warmed to and applauded the young musicians, who included 20-year-old Emma Styles stage name ES, from Worcester, and Tik Tok sensation Ben Kidson.

Among those who could not wait to get a peek inside was council worker Steve Startin, 55, of Ruskin Street, West Bromwich, who hot-footed it accompanied by wife Patsy and friend Colin Lloyd, 57, from Wednesbury.

Colin Lloyd, from Wednesbury, with Steve Startin, from West Bromwich

Steve said: "It's nice to see it open. The last time I was here it was to see Ken Dodd about 20 years ago.

"I like the front row wings on the third tier. There's plenty of room to put down your drinks and to stretch your legs.

"I've booked tickets for an upcoming gig, but it's a surprise for Patsy so I can't say which show."

Stuart Woodward, Nirinder Purawal and Jenny Purawal and Samntha Woodward from Wednesfield enjoying the new look Civic Hall

Nirender Purawal, 47, a computer programmer, of Broad Lane South, Wednesfield, said: "It's nice, but I've got to say it doesn't look a lot different from how it was before. First impressions is that it looks clean, got a new third tier, some nice lighting and a new floor.

"The last thing I attended just before it closed down was the Grand Slam of Darts.

Tik tok sensation Ben Kidson
Roux was among the Wolves Records acts

"Now I'm looking forward to seeing Gabrielle when she comes and I'm hoping my favourite singer of all time, homegrown Beverley Knight, is going to perform here soon. "

Cannock's Kerri Davies, of Wolves Records, says: "I've been looking forward to coming inside for a long time. I've missed it. It's now got a huge capacity. I'll be coming with my friends to see Sugababes next month. I've been going to Birmingham to watch shows, but this place will be great for Wolverhampton city and hopefully we'll see the bars full again."

WOLVERHAMPTON COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR STEVE LEATH 19/05/2023..Pics at Wolves Civic Hall. From Codsall and Wolves: Simon Jones, George Jones, Romy Jones, Joseph Jones and Johnny Jones from Medicine Cafe/ Restaurant and North Street Social..

Wolverhampton businessman Simon Jones, 56, arrived with his children Johnny, 31, Romy, 23, George, 21, and Joseph, 20, and said: "I've seen hundreds of gigs here. Coming tonight brings back memories. Among them were The Specials v Madness, the Stranglers, Lou Reed, The Cramps when there was a huge fight in the middle of the dance floor.

"I'm hoping the reopening will bring the city centre back to life."

Johnny Jones, of nearby North Street Socials, added: "We came to have a look round The Halls to see what it looks like inside after almost 10 years closure and taxpayers' money, and to hear some local bands.

"We won't be at the Blur gig next week as we'll be opening our venue and we'll be hosting a free after-show party."

All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Wolves Foundation, the club's official charity, which was set up to educate and inspire struggling residents.

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