After a little time: Beautiful South’s Jacqui Abbott chats reuniting with Paul Heaton for ‘blessed’ album

You may have heard the song around and recognised their voices. You may have seen their faces on the odd poster and thought ‘could it be?’.

But before clamours of a reunion take over, it’s best to get this straight out there: The Beautiful South are not getting back together.

However two of the band’s most famous faces, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – the duo who sang side by side for hits such as Perfect 10 – have reunited for an album and tour.

Due for release on May 12, What Have We Become embraces the familiar lyrical wit and humour of Jacqui and Paul in a fresh batch of songs.

“I can’t even describe how excited and blessed I feel to be making music and back on tour with Paul,” said Jacqui.

“I just knew the moment he asked me it was meant to be, and it feels like the cherry alongside many that have already been added to the cake.”

Jacqui revealed that she has never been a believer in fate, and puts her once-in-a-lifetime experience as The Beautiful South’s vocalist down to being ‘extremely lucky’ to be in the right place at just the right time.

 “My greatest musical accomplishment is making enough of an impression on Paul that he actually picked me to be part of the band.

“I know it sounds really cheesy and corny, but being in that one place at the right time completely changed my life forever, everything since that day has happened as a result of me being picked.

“It’s just amazing, Paul has such a great intuition, he has a way of reading people and seeing something in people, and he saw that in me,” she said, bursting with pride.

“I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe that and Paul and me were meant to play together.”

Following their intimate reunion gig in Paul’s pub The King’s Arms on April 16, a nostalgic Jacqui revealed which tracks are most reminiscent of her Beautiful South career. 

“There are so many songs that mean the absolute world to me,” she said.

“Prettiest Eyes is such a gorgeous, gorgeous song, and the memory of the day we recorded it makes it even more special.

“There are so many songs that I truly loved singing, with favourites standing out as Bell Bottomed Tear and We Are Each Other.

“The memory of any song we make relies on the mood in the studio, so if we’re all having a laugh and enjoying ourselves we know it’s going to be an amazing, heart-felt song.”

Avid lovers of the musical pair would have been delighted to hear their new single DIY receive some well-deserved airplay on Radio 2 last week.

It seems that Jacqui also shared in this delight when she heard the song earn some well-deserved airplay.

“Funnily enough, I went to the shop yesterday and I was standing in the queue and the next minute the opening tune to DIY played out,” she said.

“I was sort of like, oh my god, this is our song!

“If I’d have been with my mum, she would’ve told the entire shop ‘that’s my daughter on the radio’ but I just stood there, enjoying the moment and appreciating our music, which I still do after all this time.”

The official music video for DIY, featuring a fashion-forward Jacqui, a quieter-than-usual Paul, thrift shoppers gone wild and even a cheeky glimpse at a naked Johnny Vegas, was released yesterday.

Jacqui talked about how coming back to a life driven entirely by music has made her ‘appreciate how special it is, that little bit more’, and how their reunion has restored a ‘wealth of memory’ from their best-selling days together.

After years of demand from doting fans, Jacqui revealed where the idea of a reunion originally flourished.

“Me and Paul worked together in 2011 and 2012 as part of the Manchester International Festival and I think that’s where he got the inspiration,” she said.

“We have spent so long creating new music, rehearsing and constructing a great set, and now we just can’t wait to get out there and show our fans our love for music; we are buzzing!”

Given his reputation for being a devoted and passionate musician, it was hardly surprising to hear that he has been exceptionally busy writing ‘an extensive amount of music’, not only to make What Have We Become the best it can be, but for his successful solo career too.

“Paul’s solo projects mean a hell of a lot to him” Jacqui said.

“The new album started off with 26 potential tracks written by Paul and they were all just fantastic.

“We found it really hard to cut them down, but we managed to squeeze four extras into the deluxe edition of the album which is a nice bonus.”

The concept of the duo rejoining forces for a comeback tour is undoubtedly exciting for fans, but what can their followers expect to take from the much-anticipated line up of gigs? Jacqui gave her insight into what the gigs – and brand new music – will offer.

“I appreciate Paul, he is an amazing front man and can really hold the crowds, he’s so witty and I think people love that,” she said.

“I want people who come to the show to love our music as much as we do, to laugh along with us and to appreciate how much passion and time went into producing each and every track.

“When It Was Ours is such a gorgeous song, and I think the world of I Am Not A Muse… Paul performs it beautifully.”

Jacqui revealed what the pair has set in their sights beyond the new tour, after cutting a number of potential tracks from What Have We Become.

“Of course, I would be more than happy to work on more music after the tour, but for right now I want to enjoy this incredible time in my life and appreciate every moment,” she said.

“I haven’t really thought about what’s next for us, but I’m absolutely loving every minute of our new project.”

So, what lies in the future for The Beautiful South? Can fans ever build their hopes up for an official reunion of the band? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely. 

“I think that I can safely say that after Paul has thought about going back to it so many times, it’s unlikely to ever happen,” she said.

“The Beautiful South was a truly amazing, special time in our lives and Paul decided to draw the line under something amazing and end on an absolute high.” 

Jacqui and Paul perform at The Lowry on Friday May 23.  

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