Paul Heaton And Jacqui Abbott, Gig Review. Echo Arena, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

It could be Rotterdam, Rome or anywhere but as December’s cruel thoughts turn to the end of the year, as the office parties began to stack up and the songs from karaoke machines began to rotate on mass, there is in amongst the freeze to come the knowledge that it is Liverpool that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott once again find themselves in and producing a night of music in which to dance and reflect the night away.

Whether it is to expose the hypocrisy of life or to revel in the words of a poet with ability to make one of the finest minds of words and monologue stories, Alan Bennett, wonder if he should hang up his popular crown and give the title to the man who for decades has had the unerring ability to show an audience just what the world is like when you unwrap its gilded, chocolate box initial look and see deep inside the empty calorie shells.

From the o2 Academy on Hotham Street, through to the glorious night at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and onto the Echo Arena, it is perhaps a journey that has daunted many, positively over awing them, and it is not hard to understand why, but ultimately it is with a huge and excited audience, one willing to give as much as they receive that makes the journey all the more sensational.

The return of the sublime Jacqui Abbott to the stage is one that many fans have called for and following on from the night at the Philharmonic Hall, the crowd at the Echo Arena were full voiced in their appreciation of a performer who truly knows how to stir an audience into submission, who knows just where her cohort in musical madness stands and to whom, as a pair, find the genuine love for the song in which to tantalise and thrill each soul in the darkness with.

With tracks such as The Lord Is A White Con, Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), The Austerity of Love, I’ll Sail This Ship Alone, Me and The Farmer, She Got The Garden, Old Red Eyes Is Back, the upbeat and crowd favourite Perfect 10, Don’t Marry Her and Happy Hour all laid bare and strutting their gigantic northern stuff, the thought of Bennett, Simon Armitage and even the grace of Emily Bronte hove into view.

This is the point of Paul Heaton’s words, regardless of whether it was with The Housemartins, The Beautiful South or indeed with Jacqui Abbot, the honesty of life steeped in community, bathed in the ideals of a different kind of political thought, all play out with the sense of amour, of holding back the winter freeze and giving the people a tune in which to hold dear for the rest of their lives.

A cracking night of music, once again Paul Heaton, Jacqui Abbott and their band strike so many emotions into the hearts of their fans that the crowd not only dance the night away but are educated with a belief that is impossible to shake off.

Ian D. Hall