This Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott article was written by Joe Glave, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Hazel Webster
Despite originating from Hull, Paul Heaton has always referred to Sheffield as “home”. Being a life-long Sheffield United fan and with a large percentage of his fanbase coming from the steel city, last Friday Heaton & Jacqui Abbott stepped onto the O2 Academy stage to elated cheers and applause from a mixed-aged sold-out crowd.
It was quite clear throughout the evening that the duo were appreciative of the South Yorkshire crowd, thanking them on several occasions for the reception that both old and new numbers received.
Despite an inundated amount of cult hits in the duo’s arsenal, they opened with the ‘(Man is) The Biggest Bitch Of All’, from their new album ‘Wisdom, Laughter & Lines’, which saw great success last week reaching to an impressive number 4 in the charts with only a small amount of radio play. Heaton took pleasure in announcing to the crowd how the new album had managed to place above Daniel O’Donnell’s latest work.
A handful of new tracks were performed throughout the evening, however, one which did get the crowd moving was the politically driven ‘Heatongrad’. The song is a laugh-out-loud country-bumpkin rollick, yet the pair’s bittersweet voices are sometimes warm and sometimes withering – but always engaging, especially in the tight knit atmosphere of Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
Paul Heaton took plenty of time between songs to speak about the value of the North of England, treading political lines to speak about the lack of jobs and crippling effects austerity is having across many northern cities.
But of course the highlights of the night came from the captivating display of The Beautiful South and The Housemartins classics. ‘Don’t Marry Her’, ‘People Who Grinned Themselves to Death’ and ‘You Keep It All In’ showcased the energy and chemistry that Heaton and Abbott still clearly have on-stage but praise must go to the songs which they performed individually, proving how musically talented the pair still are. Heaton thrashed out ‘Me and the Farmer’ with attitude and swagger whilst the crowd were in awe of the authenticity of Abbotts’ vocals in ‘Rotterdam’ and ‘How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry?’.
The absorbing acoustic version of ‘Caravan of Love’ had the whole venue singing along. And after not one but two encores, the duo ended with a wonderful guitar infused version of fan favourite ‘Perfect 10’. Perhaps before Heaton and Abbott’s comeback a couple of years ago, you could have questioned the longevity of an act such as this in today’s music industry. But whilst this pair are selling out tours and achieving top 5 albums, the pair are remaining beautiful in the North and the South.