Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott performing at Sherwood Pines Nottinghamshire on Friday 22nd June 2018.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

It was Billy Bragg, the Bard of Barking who kicked off the first of three nights of music in the beautiful setting of Sherwood Pines on Friday night. With long queues to get in on a lovely sunny night, some will have missed Bragg’s opening set, and if they did, then they missed a real treat.

Standing on the immense stage with just his guitar he delivered a set list which included some fans favourites such as The Milkman Of Human Kindness, the delightful Levi Stubbs Tears, New England, and the heartfelt The Times They Are A Changin’.

Headlining was one of the UK’s underrated duo’s; Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott and it was a near capacity crowd who turned out to start the weekend party with them as Heaton came onto the stage and improvised a song in which he sang that Abbott had been poorly.

So when she came onto the stage to join in on opener I Don’t See Them, she was given a real Nottinghamshire welcome. They delivered hit after hit with a set list that delved into songs from The Housemartins and Beautiful South’s catalogues as well as snippets from their own material.

There was the rousing The Lord Is A White Con, and the slower One Last Love Song, and when Abbott broke into the first words of Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), the forest lit up with a backdrop of sparkly lights.

Despite his protestations of age, Heaton’s voice still soared around the forest and the energy and chemistry that he has with Abbott means songs like I’ll Sail This Ship Alone left the crowd breathless. Don’t Marry Her had the crowd inserting the original naughty banned lyrics and Song For Whoever and Happy Hour went down a treat.

With huge balloons being sent into the crowd the evening was brought to an end with an a capella version of Caravan Of Love which was just as stunning as ever. It was a beautiful song to round off a perfect night and had the crowd meandering home still singing the chorus.