Hull City Hall welcomes the return of former Beautiful South singers Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott
Allison Coggan 1 June 2014 HE was greeted like a long-lost son, albeit an adopted one. Of course, Paul Heaton has been back to Hull since the break-up of the Beautiful South but this was an altogether different return.
With his former Beautiful South co-singer Jacqui Abbott in tow, the pair took to the stage of City Hall to deafening cheers.
Here to promote their new album What Have We Become, their new songs - from the hit single DIY to their next single Moulding of a Fool – were received well by the crowd packing the main hall and dancing in the balcony.
But this gig had a far more intimate feel – they knew us and we knew them. There was a warmth as the crowd chanted “Heato, Heato” and the singer responded in kind, regaling them with memories of his 20 years in the city, dropping in familiar names from Silhouette to the Old Zoological.
At one point, the singers had to wait until the crowd had finished roaring “We Are Hull” as their passion for their city overcame them.
Jacqui took more of a central role than from back in the day, her rich, deep voice treating the crowd to Loving Arms and Rotterdam. When Paul quipped about the thousands of letters he received demanding he link up once more with her, the crowd showed their appreciation by chanting her name, much to her obvious pleasure and embarrassment.
This was an older crowd, a middle-aged mix of people who had grown up with the Housemartins and the Beautiful South and Paul Heaton’s latest collective of musicians embraced that.
Beautiful South classics Don’t Marry Her, I’ll Sail This Shop Alone and Good as Gold were thrown into the mix alongside even older favourites from Paul Heaton’s Housemartins catalogue, Build, Me and the Farmer and, of course, Happy Hour.
Twice, they tried to leave the stage and twice the crowd roared them back. There was an expectant air as the band gathered for what everyone knew would be the last song of the night.
The band lined up at the front of the stage to sing Caravan of Love, the a cappella Number One hit of 1986 for the Housemartins. And, in truth, there could have been no fitter ending to a brilliant sort of homecoming.
Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott. British pop's unlikely stars return.
Shepherds Bush Empire, London Backed by a six-piece band, the Beautiful South besties deliver new hits and old favourites with harmony and wit. Ian Gittins, Thursday 29 May In his bomber jacket, librarian spectacles, crew cut and awkward grin, Paul Heaton could hardly look less like a pop star. Yet see past this unpromising exterior and it is difficult to dispute the fact he has been one of British pop's most routinely underrated figures of the last three decades.
Heaton recently returned with What Have We Become, a collaboration with Jacqui Abbott, his former co-vocalist in the Beautiful South. The album went top three in its week of release – behind only Coldplay and Michael Jackson, as he reminds us tonight with relish – and confirms that the spiky yet honey-voiced Abbott has always been his most effective musical foil.
If Heaton were a dramatist, he would surely be Mike Leigh. The songs from all stages of his lengthy career boast observational acumen, dry wit and a big heart. New track Costa del Sombre is a sensitively empathic portrait of a middle-aged woman on a package trip throwing herself into a Shirley Valentine-type holiday romance with dancefloor "steps she had been saving up since 1972".
Co-fronting their six-piece band, Abbott is vivacious and full-voiced on DIY, a sardonic country-tinged diatribe written from the perspective of a wife traded in for a younger model. When they plunge into the pop alchemy of the Beautiful South's back catalogue, as with the gorgeously melodic Rotterdam, you recall exactly why their 90s greatest hits collection went platinum five times over.
A 23-song set has virtually no filler, and they close with a sweetly harmonious revisit of the Housemartins' 1986 a cappella No 1, Caravan of Love. Paul Heaton would doubtless be horrified to be categorised as a national treasure. Sadly for him, he has no real say in the matter. Source
Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott | The o2 ABC, Glasgow | Live review *****
By Stuart Westwood- 22 May 2014
Paul Heaton must surely be one of pop music’s most prolific song-writers penning some of the best known pop songs when he was in the Housemartins and more recently The Beautiful South, Jacqui Abbott replaced Briana Corrigan after Heaton met her outside a night club and was so impressed by her singing he invited her to audition they went on to produce some of the Beautiful South’s most successful hits. The pair have re-united to release a new album ‘What Have We Become’ with a sold out tour sponsored by the GMB to promote it.
Tonight in the O2 ABC Glasgow a sold out crowd have the chance to hear Heaton and Abbott sing tracks from the new album as well as some old Beautiful South and Housemartins favourites
Opening with Some Dancing To Do from the new album proceedings get off to a brilliant start Heaton’s nasal vocals complimented beautifully by Jacqui rich luscious vocals… ‘Old Red Eyes’ has The crowd dancing and sing their hearts out.. This is followed by another new track ‘Costa Del Sombre’….considering the album has only been on release for a week or so the crowd were singing along like it was an old favourite. A good mix of old …’Build’, ‘Dream a Little Dream’, ‘Don’t Marry Her’, and new songs ‘Moulding of a Fool’ (very Style Council influenced)’The Snowman’ and new single ‘D.I.Y’ interspersed with anecdotes from Paul Heaton made for a brilliant night…Heaton managed to get himself on the wrong side of the Scottish crowd by talking about the World Cup ….a sore point in Scotland and was met by a chorus of playful boo’s…but managed to back peddled saying he was only interested in the stickers!!!
Finishing the set with ‘Happy Hour’ and another new track ‘When I Get Back To Blighty’ the crowd weren’t ready to let them go and manage to squeeze two encore’s out of the duo eventually finishing with an a cappella version of the Housemartins cover of ‘Caravan Of Love’….
Old songs are great and its always good to hear them but Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott’s new material is excellent and stood up well to the classic’s receiving a tremendous reception from the crowd …..this was a big relief for Heaton as he described performing the new songs like meeting Pele …the greatest footballer of all time only to talk about house insurance!!! A weird analogy but we got what he meant….great gig
Live: Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott - Tyne Theatre in Newcastle 20 May
One of the more welcome reunions of recent times is the getting together of former Beautiful South members Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott who this week released a rather excellent album titled “What Have We Become”. Abbott split suddenly from the band in 2000, a combination of the pressures of touring and wanting to spend time with her young son who had been diagnosed with autism, but having been contacted by Heaton last year via Facebook the wheels were set in motion for what would become both a new album and UK tour, which opened in front of a sell out crowd at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle last night.
Heaton has always been an undervalued songwriter and performer from his days in the agit-pop Housemartins where a combination of catchy tunes and quirky lyrics never hid Heaton’s anger at social and political issues – with royalty, Tories, the wealthy and sexism – to name but a few – all being subjected to Heaton’s withering disdain. They were also a terrific live band. Success continued with the Beautiful South with the band racking up number #1s in both album and singles charts and performing live shows in arenas and even stadiums. Through it all though Heaton seems to have retained his a cheeky and mischievous demeanour regaling the Newcastle audience with tales of how success in an early battle of the bands competition won the band a support slot with – gulp – Gary Glitter; his penchant for collecting football stickers in the run up to the world cup; and admonishing the crowd good-humouredly for buying insufficient quantities of the new album to make it “only” reach #2 in the mid-week chart position.
Heaton commented recently that “Working with Jacqui again was like going into your garage and discovering a beautiful, covered up Rolls Royce that hadn’t been started in years. Jacqui is one of the best singers I’ve worked with and is also part of my past. It was only a matter of time before I asked her.” He confided that Abbott had been nervous pre-show, but to be honest, she showed little evidence of this. After opening with “Some Dancing To Do” and “Old Red Eyes Is Back” it wasn’t long before Heaton left the stage and handed the spotlight over to Abbott, who performed a note perfect version of “Rotterdam”. As the cheers died down at the song’s end, a voice called out “I love you Jacqui”, to which, after being momentarily lost for words, she deadpanned back “Thanks, Dad”, before mouthing an apology to her admirer.
With any nerves now firmly put to rest, the band (now augmented by ex-Squeeze keyboardist Stephen Large, who Heaton saw when supporting Squeeze on their 2012 tour, and decided to “steal”) ran through a perfectly balanced setlist of tunes including the Housemartins’ “Build”, “Me And The Farmer” “Caravan Of Love” and “Happy Hour” the latter of which saw a rush of middle-aged blokes dancing their way to the front of the stage and The Beautiful South’s “I’ll Sail This Ship Alone”, “Don’t Marry Her”, “Carry On Regardless”, “Prettiest Eyes” and “Let Love Speak Up Itself”.
Other songs from the new album included “Costa del Sombre”, “When I Get Back To Blighty”, “D.I.Y.”, “Moulding Of A Fool” and “The Snowman”. Abbott also slotted in a couple of covers including a gorgeous rendition of “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”, the first time, apparently, she’d ever performed it on stage.
Opening was Cherry Ghost – tonight a duo with just Simon Aldred on guitar and vocals and The Earlies’ Christian Madden on keyboards – who performed a too short set that included “Mathematics”, “Drinking For Two”, “Sacramento”, “4AM” and the Ivor Novello winning “People Help The People”.
All in all, a terrific night of music from start to finish. Catch the tour if you can!
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