Monday 5 December 2016

Caravan of love still rumbles on

Pop: Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Olympia, Dublin

Published 13/04/2016 | 07:00

(from left) Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott arrives on the red carpet for the BBC Music Awards at the Genting Arena, Birmingham. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
(from left) Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott arrives on the red carpet for the BBC Music Awards at the Genting Arena, Birmingham. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The old saying goes lightning never strikes twice, especially in the fickle worlds of music and showbiz. Paul Heaton spectacularly bucks the trend, hitting gold with both the Housemartins and the Beautiful South during an astonishing career.

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At the height of their powers, the Beautiful South headlined Féile and the old Point depot.

Meanwhile, former Housemartins bassist Norman Cook spectacularly re-invented himself as Fatboy Slim.

This is effectively is a partial reunion of the Beautiful South, as Heaton and Jacqui Abbott were the band's dual vocalists who produced some of the finest duets in British pop.

Heaton shuffles onstage looking more like a bespectacled geography teacher than a rock star who has sold million albums of albums.

His understated presence is one of his greatest charms, perfectly complimenting his sharp and witty songs.

And what a songbook. The set includes Old Red Eyes is Back, Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), I'll Sail this Ship Alone, Happy Hour, Perfect 10, A Little Time and the Housemartins' timeless hit Caravan of Love.

"This is our new single, which absolutely none of you have bought," Heaton jokes prefacing a tune from his latest album Wisdom, Laughter and Lines.

Nobody may have bought the single, but the album has already sold 60,000 copies and went to number four in the charts, which is an admirable feat in the age of Spotify.

The root of Heaton's enduring appeal is his wonderful songs, plus having the perfect foil in Jacqui Abbott.

A Little Time is a timely reminder just how great their creative partnership is, while it an absolute joy to behold the euphoria that sweeps the room when the band strike into Happy Hour.

Before Caravan of Love, Heaton thanks the crowd for their loyal support over the last 30 years. It is a touching moment, revealing that after all the ups and downs of his career, Heaton doesn't take anything for granted.

He is a true original, and without a doubt one of the greatest songwriters Britain has ever produced.

Irish Independent

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