It doesn’t take long to recognise the familiar, soothing rhythm of a classic The Beautiful South track.
So you can only imagine the sheer delight among the nostalgic crowd as the first chords of Old Red Eyes is Back echoed beautifully at the intimate gig in the Kings Arms, Salford, last night.
Paul Heaton – performing poignantly alongside the marvellous Jacqui Abbott for the first time since the Beautiful South sadly parted ways – effortlessly belted out the meaningful vocals to the fan favourite.
And the fans showed their appreciation by singing back, lyric by lyric, with remarkable passion and energy, as though it were themselves who were performing the gig.
The pair, most famous for their multi-million selling days of The Beautiful South, delivered what can only be described as a magical performance – the perfect mix of old classics and their yet-to-be-released new material.
Between performances Paul chit-chatted with the crowd and reminisced about his tales of woe, pet hates and of course his musical conquests.
Before introducing Housemartins love song Build, Paul gave an insight into his ideal perfect love song.
“I was once asked what the key to a great love song is” he said.
“I believe the perfect love song can make you laugh, make you cry, and get an erection all at the same time”.
Fans cheered wildly in response before surrendering to yet another faultless performance.
While the musical styling of their new tracks differ somewhat from the more recognisable The Beautiful South, Jacqui’s stunning vocals and Paul’s are equally, if not more prominent, in every song.
The pair was completely at ease with one another, and it was truly remarkable to witness how in tune with one another they were.
“I always think how my life has sometimes been hard, and challenging, but today something really amazing happened” Paul told the crowd.
“Today, our new single DIY was played for the first time on the radio” he told excited fans.
When one fan asked which station played the song, Paul said: “What station? There’s only one station, BBC Radio 2.
“After you turn 50, it’s all about Radio 2, all the other stations play new music which is, in a nutshell, just kids with long hair and skinny jeans” he said.
The wonderfully-outspoken Paul then left the stage, allowing Jacqui to take the spotlight delivering a world-class performance of Rotterdam.
Her passion shone through and her vocals were truly stunning, which surprisingly left the once-wild crowd speechless and emotional while I wiped away a steady stream of nostalgic tears.
The performance somehow brought my childhood back to life, and I was once again in my auntie’s arms dancing around her living room while she sang the very same song to me.
The pair then picked up the pace with the classic Don’t Marry Her, and once again the crowd sang jovially along.
As expected the room elapsed into immature giggles when Jacqui sang the original, smuttier version of the track.
Other performances included The Housemartins classics Me and the Farmer and Caravan of Love acapella.
Speaking again of the exclusive airplay their new track DIY received yesterday, Paul said: “I have stopped drinking; I stopped drinking quite some time ago.
“When it came to celebrating, I wondered what I could possibly do. I’ve given up a lot lately with the exception of chocolate.
“There was a beer bottle next to my fridge but I told myself I wouldn’t drink it. I ended up celebrating by having some salt on my food because that’s something I’ve cut out too”.
Paul also told the crowd of one of his biggest pet peeves after returning for a much-demanded encore.
But as the singing drew to a close not one person in the crowd was prepared to leave so soon and no more than 20 seconds after the crowd began to chant ‘more’ the pair returned.
“How cheap was that?” joked Paul.
“I am a cheap man, God that was so cheap. But I would like to thank you all for making a cheap man feel a little more expensive.”
The reunion of the pair for the intimate gig came as a taster of their new album What we have become which is due for release on May 12.
Pictures courtesy of Shirlaine Forrest, with thanks