Gig review: Paul Heaton at Utilita Arena, Sheffield
Former Housemartins and The Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton puts on an excellent show in a packed Sheffield Arena.
On Friday night, revelers braved the cold and packed Sheffield’s Utilita Arena to see the brilliant Paul Heaton and his band of eight. Earlier that day, Heaton revealed Jacqui Abbott would not be coming to see him – unfortunately the doctor’s orders had ruled her out for the foreseeable future due to a throat problem.
As they say, “The show must go on,” and it did. Sheffield’s Before Breakfast quartet opened proceedings before iconic songwriter Billy Bragg took the stage. Bragg performed a number of his classic hits including Way Over Yonder in The Minor Key, Power in a Union and the recent ballad I Will Be Your Shield – a really soulful and emotional song.
Paul Heaton then took the stage in his usual reserved, nonchalant manner, to thunderous applause from the appreciative Sheffield audience.
He opened with I Drover Her Away With My Tears – from his recent number one album with Abbott, NK-Pop. The beautiful South hit From Under The Covers quickly followed before Paul apologized to the perceptive crowd for Abbott not being able to perform.
In Abbott’s absence, various members of the band had taken the mantle and certainly not disgraced themselves. We hear that for the first time on Too Much For One when the bassist emerges and delivers Jacqui’s lines in an impressive manner.
Heaton then dove into The Beautiful South’s back catalog with crowd favorites One Last Love Song, Old Red Eyes Is Back and I’ll Sail This Ship Alone, all of which were well received by a mixed crowd of people ranging from their late teens to to revelers in their seventies .
The last part of the set included the legendary songs “Rotterdam”, “Song For Whoever” and the Housemartins hit “Think For a Minute”.
An encore of four songs shook the crowd, and when a cluster of giant balloons were dropped onto the stage floor from above during happy hour, the crowd went feverish. Perfect 10, You Keep It All In and the a cappella Caravan of Love left the crowd beaming from ear to ear as they shuffled out of the arena.
Despite Abbott’s absence, it was clear that everyone in attendance had a great evening entertained by one of the country’s most talented singer/songwriters.