Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott @ O2 Academy

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott stepped onto the O2 Academy stage to rapturous cheers and applause from the eager, sold-out crowd last Friday night.

The gratitude on their faces was clear to see and they thanked the Sheffield crowd on many occasions for the enthusiastic reception they received throughout the night.

Between them Paul & Jacqui have a back catalogue of classic hits, however, they opened with the upbeat ‘(Man is) The Biggest Bitch Of All’, lifted from their new album Wisdom, Laughter & Lines, which has seen great success this week. Paul Heaton was quick to share the success the album has had, reaching number 4 in the charts, and pleasing to him, beating Daniel O’Donnell’s latest album. But it wasn’t all about the latest album with a separate mention going to 2014’s ‘What Have We Become’ – a track which peaked at number 3 and was coincidentally certified gold the day of the gig last Friday.

Even with all the success the new record has had, the biggest cheers were still reserved for the hits they made together as The Beautiful South. With countless top 10 hits there were plenty for Paul & Jacqui to choose from and fans were treated to classics such as ‘Prettiest Eyes’, ‘Don’t Marry Her’ and ‘Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)’. Paul Heaton took plenty of time between songs to speak about the value of the north of England, treading political lines to speak about the lack of jobs and crippling effects austerity has had across many northern cities. With all the adulation it was as much about The Beautiful North as The Beautiful South.

The clocks were turned back with this captivating display, covering hits from their new album, and timeless classics from both their time together and Paul’s time in The Housemartins. One highlight was an enthralling acoustic version of ‘Caravan of Love’ which had the whole place singing along. The fans were in great spirits and were rewarded with not one, but two encores from the accomplished duo, ending with the aptly named ‘Perfect 10’.


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