We are going to be completely shameless here in the SOUTH WALES LIFE office and say that PAUL HEATON & JACQUI ABBOTT are on our most played list, and we cannot wait to see them when they get back to South Wales at the Swansea Arena this November. Just to add to the excitement, they have announced BILLY BRAGG will be their special guest on this tour.

More importantly however, it gives us the chance to champion the brilliant songwriting talent that Paul is. I don’t think there’s any question he is one of our most prolific musicians.

When restrictions allowed, Paul & Jacqui gave their support to the NHS staging a couple of free gigs and raising much needed funds. More importantly, just a great big thank you for the work they have done, and continue to do.

PAUL AND JACQUI’S fourth studio album ‘MANCHESTER CALLING’ is out now and it made its way straight to number one. An album which has all the hallmarks of Paul’s beautifully bittersweet songwriting – effortlessly catchy melodies allied with an everyman’s biting exasperation at the modern world alongside some truly heartfelt love songs.

And in true Heaton & Abbott style here is the first single from it and it’s simple, catchy and simply really good – YOU AND ME.

Paul has some 15 million album sales under his belt, first came to public attention in the early 80s as front man of Hull-based indie poppers The Housemartins (the same group that spawned Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook), ‘HAPPY HOUR’ and their No 1 acapella Isley Bros cover ‘CARAVAN OF LOVE’. 

In 1988 he formed The Beautiful South, who released 10 hugely successful albums and a stack of catchy, funny and memorable songs……

The Beautiful South

Jacqui was lead vocalist in The Beautiful South from 1994 to 2000 and she sang many of their signature hits including ‘Rotterdam’, ‘Perfect 10’, ‘Don’t Marry Her’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream’. Paul went on to release two further solo albums: ‘The Cross-Eyed Rambler’ and ‘Acid Country.’ Then in 2011 he wrote a musical called ‘The 8th’ based on the Seven Deadly Sins and asked Jacqui to sing one of the parts, and that, as they say, is where it all began for the pair.

I do have a little bit of history with TBS. Many years ago, when the band were right at the top of the tree, and charts, they played a small, intimate gig, for a handful of invited guests in a relatively small pub. I had the pleasure of hosting that evening. To say they were phenomenal would be an understatement. To see, and hear them so close was a real joy.

They have since released three acclaimed albums as a duo: ‘What Have We Become.’ ‘Wisdom, Laughter and Lines’ and ‘Crooked Calypso’ a couple of years ago. Last year Paul released a career spanning compilation of his biggest hits and more entitled ‘The Last King Of Pop’ and if ever you were looking for an album to start with, that’s the one. This was the lead single from the album – 7″ SINGLES.

Paul & Jacqui

So that brings us to the current album. Produced by long time collaborator John Williams who produced both Housemartins albums and the previous three PAUL & JACQUI albums. It was recorded was recorded at Blueprint Studios in Salford, Manchester. As is Paul Heaton’s habit the lyrics were written in various locations in North Holland and Belgium while the music was composed in a hotel in Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria and in Limburg An Der Lahn in Germany. He told Steve Wright on Radio Two recently about his love of writing in these places.

Paul told us……..

“I’ve lived in Manchester for 17 years now and recording an album here for the first time, was looking forward to cycling to work. That was never possible as Manchester is now being turned into a business centre for the rich, which I can’t stand.  If there’s a theme to the record, it’s anti growth, anti greed, against the continuous tearing down of old buildings and sticking up soulless offices, and the disappearance of local accents on TV, along with the creeping spread of Americanese.  So, some curmudgeonly moans, plus some hopefully uplifting love songs. Originally it was set up to be a double LP like ‘London Calling’ but alas the double album has also become a victim of time”

Paul Heaton

Jacqui added….

“I’m so pleased and excited about the new album, it was wonderful to work on new songs and even more so that we did double what we have done for the last few records. It’ll be a joy to see others react to something we took such pleasure out of making”

Jacqui Abbott

To coincide with the album release Paul, Jacqui and the band should have been out on the road by now, letting us hear this fine collection of new songs, and all the hits too. The rescheduled date will be pretty much 12 months to the day when they were originally set to get to town.

As with the previous live shows, Paul & Jacqui have kept the ticket prices to an affordable level and start at £32.90, which is pretty amazing nowadays.

PAUL HEATON & JACQUI ABBOTT get to Swansea Arena on Saturday 26th November, and don’t forget the Special Guest is the unique and unforgettable BILLY BRAGG.

Tickets go on sale from Thursday 1st September for more details and to get yours, go here – PAUL & JACQUI.

The current album, MANCHESTER CALLING is out now and well worth adding to your collection.

Incidentally, there’s a recently released Double Deluxe version of Manchester Calling is out now. You can pick that up HERE.

And to listen to our interview with former Beautiful South singer – Alison Wheeler, go HERE.