Paul Heaton Sheffield Leadmill 30th September


Last night The Northern Line ventured south of its normal stomping ground but don’t panic we didn’t go too far south, just down to Sheffield to see Paul Heaton a true northern genius at the legendary Leadmill.

The Leadmill in Sheffield has been open for years (opened in 1980) and was a former flour mill despite its name suggesting otherwise. In the 80’s it hosted many of Sheffield’s own rising stars (The Human League, ABC, Heaven 17 and Cabaret Voltaire) other notable early events included a pantomime directed by Jarvis Cocker and in 1984 The Housemartins decided to queue for their own gig and were turned away by bouncers!!! A fact that Paul must have wanted to forget about as there was no mention of that tonight.

Since the 80’s everyone who’s anyone have passed through its doors, Oasis, The White Stripes, Coldplay, Snow Patrol and The Killers to name but a few. The Arctic Monkeys in 2005 sold out the venue quicker than any other band and that was before their legendary debut album had even been released.

Visit the website at to find out what they have to offer, as well as being a live venue it is also a night club.

Back to tonight, Paul Heaton has been a solo artist now for several years and one thing I find bizarre is that The Beautiful South were a massive stadium filling pop band yet Paul Heaton solo is struggling to sell out venues of this size. To me this is a crime as the songs he has written solo are pure pop genius and deserve to be heard by a wider audience. People are very fickle and soon move on to the next fad, Kings of Leon or The Killers perhaps!

While the rest of the Beautiful South trawl out the hits as the newly named South at least Heaton stays relevant and original.

I never saw The Housemartins and Paul’s comments from stage tonight confirm that I aren’t likely to as a reunion is well and truly off the cards (which to me is how it should be, all these bands getting back together to drag out the hits around Britain’s festival and arena circuit are kidding themselves, the past should be left in the past)

I did however see The Beautiful South quite a few times and for a moment in time I loved them, I think mainly because of my early love of the Housemartins and Paul as a person.

The set began with the drummer coming on stage who started playing a drum beat, the rest of the band then followed and they launched into Welcome to the south, this was quickly followed up with the single from album number two Mermaids and Slaves, a true hit single that never was. Paul apologised at the end of the song as he picked up the wrong harmonica twice before 3rd time lucky grabbing the right one, not that it mattered the song still sounded great.

Paul is still fashion conscious and wore his jacket throughout the set even though he looked red hot, throughout the show the audience remain captivated and laugh along with every anecdote he tells them. One which made me smile was he told us that it was time he won an award, any award he wasn’t bothered just an award for his songs. He said even Gary Glitter has an Ivor Novello which he sits on at home!! He said he would be happy with an award from the local Sheffield paper The Star for the most improved singer! And one thing for certain his voice tonight is absolutely spot on.

He said he had lived in Sheffield till he was thirteen and unlike Richard Hawley with his romantic songs about Sheffield landmarks Coles Corner and Lady’s Bridge he could only think of Wan**rs Corner and P**s me self bridge from the time he lived in the city!!!!.

Paul doesn’t play any Beautiful south songs on his solo outings and to be honest they aren’t missed, he has enough of his own stuff to play but he did throw in two Housemartins tracks early on in the set which had everybody singing and dancing. He played Build first and followed that with We’re not deep.

A couple more new songs followed and then the band came out from behind their instruments and they all sang with Paul an acapella version of a song by Stevie Wonder called A place in the sun. This was dedicated to Steven Grant who recently died from cancer and was a popular Sheffield United fan. Paul mentioned that both Wednesday and United fans were brought together as one at his recent funeral.

He played several more new songs from his excellent 3rd album Acid Country and the show ended. The band went off but not for long,  the chants of Heaton, Heaton soon started up as they had through out the gig and the band then returned.

First song of the encore was a cover of The Clash’s White man in Hammersmith Palais which sounded great, next up Paul grabbed an electric guitar and the chords fired up for the classic Housemartins hit Me and the Farmer. The crowd went wild!!

The band then left the stage again and the chants began again, the band returned and finished their set with God Bless Texas, to which the crowd sang the chorus back to the band. Paul finished the song playing the drums and singing as the band went off stage.

To sum the night up, absolutely superb!!! If you get chance to see Paul on tour you should go and see him. If any of you have tickets for Madness this December get there early as Paul is support on the tour and judging by tonight’s performance could well steal the show!!!!

Set list, as follows. I think it’s accurate any anomalies let me know

1. Welcome to the south

2. Mermaids and Slaves

3. This House

4. A cold one in the fridge

5. Build

6. We’re not deep

7. Life of a cat

8. A place in the sun

9. Little red rooster

10. The ladders bottom rung

11. Deckchair collapsed

12. Even a palm tree

13. It’s a young mans game

14. White man in Hammersmith Palais

15. Me and the Farmer

16. God Bless Texas

By Andy on October 7, 2010

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