Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performing at Sherwood Pines Nottinghamshire on Friday 24th June 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The great thing about the outdoor concerts held deep in the middle of Sherwood Forest is that age has no barriers, as last night showed when both very young and very old dug out their folding chairs and had a thoroughly entertaining evening watching Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.

Without any fanfare, elaborate costumes or fancy screens, Heaton and Abbott stood on the stage at Sherwood Pines and kept their whole audience spell bound. With Heaton’s down to earth lyrics, their set encompassed the very best of The Housemartins and The Beautiful South’s back catalogue with a sprinkling of material from the duo’s two solo albums.

Opening with the witty Wives 1, 2 & 3, from their latest album, Wisdom, Laughter & Lies, the bench mark was set for the rest of the evening. And they did not disappoint. There was The Beautiful South’s Old Red Eyes Is Back and Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud), whilst the usually dour looking Heaton introduced Have Fun as a song which he had written when he was unhappy, saying “it’s difficult to believe because I’m so smiley”.

After announcing that he had gone on Spotify to assist with their set list, they treated us to a rare outing of The Housemartins I Can’t Put My Finger On It. The set continued with Heaton in his waterproof jacket doing a little weird dad dancing and Abbott at times taking centre stage with her solo spots.

Standing behind their music stands, the songs simply flowed. Abbott’s solo efforts included If He Don’t and the fabulous Sundial In The Shade, whilst her powerful rendition of The Queen Of Soho was simply awesome.

With their voices in perfect unison, the crowd were soon up singing and dancing to the likes of Build, and Prettiest Eyes, whilst The Austerity Of Love had them going wild.

With the fans favourites stealing the show as they sang along to the likes of Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), Don’t Marry Her and Happy Hour, and with an audience on a trip down memory lane, Perfect 10 was a real highlight whilst Heatongrad won’t get Heaton on any New Year’s Honours List soon.

But it was the beautiful a cappella version of Isley Jasper Isley’s Caravan of Love that brought the goose bumps out as the crowd folded up their chairs, held sleeping youngsters in their arms and left this beautiful setting still singing out loud.