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#235 Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott @ London O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire (May 27th 2014)

Support: Cherry Ghost

There was a definite forty-something, coat round the waist brigade feel in the air as we walked in to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire…even when a tout offered me two tickets for some guy called Paul Hatton it didn’t spoil the mood. Not sure how the Hatton gig went but for us it was all about Paul Heaton and the returning heroine Jacqui Abbott.

I have been lucky enough to have seen Mr Heaton a number of times over the last five years. Those gigs were in support of his excellent yet criminally underappreciated solo albums. As you would expect on each record he has continued his seemingly never ending ability to write lyrics that are witty yet that always seem to have a cutting edge. For me he is a national treasure never afraid to do anything…except dance on stage in front of his daughters it seems.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott - London O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire May 27th 2014

Tonight Paul is in excellent form, cracking jokes (some better than others…especially the one about the Gallagher brothers), chatting with the crowd and he had a smile on his face throughout the set whilst Jacqui looks and sounds better than ever. The set is a crowd pleaser with Beautiful South tracks such as Rotterdam, Prettiest Eyes (dedicated to Paul’s parents) Good as Gold and Don’t Marry Her (which brings the proverbial house down) whilst there is a healthy collection of songs from the new record. It’s that album that has really caught the imagination. Sitting proudly at Number 3 in the charts, What Have We Become stands up well against anything that has come before. The tunes and song writing are as good as ever and it is fabulous to see that the tracks fit so well into the set. Moulding of a Fool, Snowman and the When I Get Back to Blighty are standouts for me but the best of the bunch is a triumphant rendition of D.I.Y. which highlights just how good these two are together on stage.

If I could choose five Housemartins songs to hear live they are the ones played here. We’re Not Deep, Build, Happy Hour, Me and the Farmer all get the backside moving and remind you how bloody good that band was. For a second encore Jacqui sang the Etta James song, Loving Arms (the song she ‘auditioned’ for the Beautiful South with at 17 years of age) before Paul ends the night with a note perfect Caravan of Love.

At one point Paul asked Jacqui if she was back for good. Her ‘I hope so’ answer was what we wanted to hear as these two have much more to do. Glorious…and to the women near the front…top banana indeed.


- Loved the venue but no sloped floors meant Mrs Rock didn’t see that much.

- On the tube back home I overheard a couple talking about the show. Although they enjoyed it the guy said Mumford and Sons (!) blew them out of the water. Ah well can’t please everyone…

Ticket: May 27th 2014

Ticket Price: £19.50

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