Support: Dai & The Ramblers / Gus Devlin & The Resistance
After the success of new album, What Have We Become, and a sell out spring tour, Paul and Jacqui returned to London for a triumphant last night of the tour at the splendid Roundhouse. The build up to gigs is always heightened at Christmas time but this show had already sold out months ago helped by a cracking new album, a 30 year back catalogue and excellent ticket prices...ticket prices huh...I say they were excellent, well at £22.50 they were, but due to my desperation to get to the gig I used the scandalous 'Get Me In' from Ticketmaster. As a result I ended up paying more than double the face value. Hey ho...my own fault...won't be using that again...
Having seen these two earlier in the year at the Shepherd's Bush Empire I knew to expect a setlist covering all parts of Paul's career. The Beautiful South fans and Housemartin old boys in the crowd are definitely different animals. They are easy to spot. The former are usually couples with jumpers tied round their waists swaying from side to side. The latter, middle aged men with jumpers tied round their heads bouncing up and down. I think I fell somewhere between the two but having been born and bred in Hull the old songs are ingrained into my DNA (admittedly I moved away 14 years ago and so am more of a southern softie now). I'm not sure some in the crowd (at least near me) knew too much about Sheep, Build or even Me and the Farmer but I jigged away in an, apparently, uncool fashion, ignoring the looks around me (my own wife rolling her eyes at one point). Of course it really doesn't matter where you first came across Paul Heaton. The fact that the Roundhouse is packed is testament to the pulling power he possess.
The humour that comes through in Paul's songwriting has never gone away but it is his passionate political views that are refreshing (the banner behind them says 'Paul & Jacqui say Britain needs a pay rise') when many of his contemporaries have settled into their pipe and slippers. Old Red Eyes Is Back and Don't Marry Her are standouts along with Jaqui singing the always stunning Loving Arms yet brilliantly (after 30 years doing his thing) D.I.Y. and brand new song Real Hope are as good as anything else.
The show speeds by with the highlight of the whole night coming right at the end of the main set with a spine tingling version of Let Love Speak Up Itself. This is a song that before this tour he hadn't sung for years. Well he sang it with emotion here and the roar that followed his performance should tell him to keep on singing it. I for one am delighted to have seen it live. Previously I had always thought of it as my and my first wife's song...it was playing on the radio when I asked her to marry me back in 1997. Six months later when she left I bloody hated the song. Well after this performance I now love it again. For that alone, thank you Paul.
There are two separate encores with Rotterdam and Happy Hour first up before they come back on for a disco-ish Perfect 10 and then the whole band sing an excellent Caravan of Love.
The return of Jacqui seems to have re-energised Paul and the whole night here is pure feelgood. The crowd leave happy,via the long queues at the cloak rooms, and with new dates announced for next summer we leave in the knowledge that there is much more to come from this pair.
Ticket: December 10th 2014
Ticket Price: £22.50 (At least that was the face value price. I paid £49.50...idiot)