Review: Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Thetford Forest, Saturday, July 2

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott who wowed Thetford Forest last night.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott who wowed Thetford Forest last night. - Credit: Archant

Like football and Brexit, both of which loomed large, this was an evening of two halves.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing at Thetford Forest. Photo: Lee Blanchflower at Blanc-Creati

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing at Thetford Forest. Photo: Lee Blanchflower at Blanc-Creative. - Credit: Archant

Opening acts The Devlin Brothers and Stornoway, while a little too folksy for my taste, deserved a better reaction from the crowd than they got. Although the latter’s cover of Yazz and The Plastic Population’s The Only Way is Up did strike a chord.

We also learnt a lot about Finland’s wife carrying championship from singer Brian Briggs; which could come in handy at a pub quiz.

The arena was awash with fold-out chairs, perhaps telling you something about the age of the audience. Everybody enthusiastically leapt to their feet when Heaton and Abbott took the stage, remaining stood to the very end.

If I’m honest, I’d lost touch with the duo since the The Beautiful South ended so a fair few of the songs - including Wives 1, 2 and 3; Moulding of A Fool, which Heaton dedicated to Brexit followers and D.I.Y - were new to me.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing at Thetford Forest. Photo: Lee Blanchflower at Blanc-Creati

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing at Thetford Forest. Photo: Lee Blanchflower at Blanc-Creative. - Credit: Archant


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Luckily, if you were like me and still wanted to sing-along there were a smattering of The Housemartins hits, including the crowd-pleaser Happy Hour, a beautiful version of Caravan of Love and I Can’t Put My Finger On It which he hasn’t played for 29 years.

They also sang Five Get Over Excited, which took Heaton back to the 1986 World Cup when they were playing a lot of universities. Apologising for having one eye firmly fixed on the TV at the side, showing the Germany vs Italy game, we were lucky an anxious Heaton came out for the second encore as the match had gone to penalties by then.

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As you’d expect there were a lot of Beautiful South numbers, some of which I knew, others I’d forgotten.

These included Rotterdam, a cracking funked up version of Perfect 10, Don’t Marry Her, Good as Gold, Prettiest Eyes - a song about getting older which while fun when he wrote it a long time ago isn’t as much now that he’s caught up with the lyrics - and a chilled, almost reggae style take on Need a Little Time.

Telling us they were cheap and it’d take one clap to get them back on stage, they were true to their word performing two great encores to send us off singing into the night. Sadly neither included Song for Whoever. Maybe next time.

Wayne Savage

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