Review of their gig in The Point Depot Dublin, 20 Dec, 2000
It's hard to believe that the two men onstage are the most successful British songwriting duo since Lennon & McCartney, but once you've spent two hours listening to their compositions, you can understand why.
The Beautiful South are back in town with their 'Painting it Red' Tour and lead singer Paul Heaton and Dave Rotheray are onstage doing an acoustic version of 'Prettiest Eyes' from their Greatest Hits album. It's not until the following single 'Pretenders To The Throne' that the band arrive. To most of us, this band is made up of 6 members but onstage in the Point tonight there is double that, including a 3-piece Brass section. 'Dumb' 'Baby Please Go' (a new track) and 'Let Love Speak Up Itself' all follow while Paul informs the crowd that he's drinking "Alcohol Free Beer" ( he's been off the drink for over 6 months now). This brings a huge cheer from the crowd but he replies "what are ye all cheering for?".
The new album cover provides a colourful backdrop for 'Closer Than Most' , 'Blackbird On The Wire', '36D' and 'One Last Love Song' before Paul announces that he's going to try and sing one of Jackie's songs (Jacqueline Abbott has recently left the group leaving them without a female vocalist). He manages to master 'Rotterdam' without any hiccups and I for one certainly didn't miss her vocals on this version. "No one is bigger than the songs themselves" he adds afterwards, and how right he is.
Heaton is given the chance to take a short breather while fellow vocalist Dave Hemingway takes centre stage on 'The Mediterranean', a slow tempo number that could be a future single. Favourites like 'The Table', 'Old Red Eyes Is Back', 'Perfect 10', and 'You Keep It All In' follow in quick succession, the latter providing a perfect arrangement of Brass Instrumentation.
For their current single 'The River', Heaton proceeded to the front of the extended stage to sing solo and upon it's completion he remarked "normally when I sing this song, it's nerve wrecking, but not tonight because I saw loads of smiling faces. Thanks for the smiling faces". With that he raises his glass and wishes us all a Happy Christmas, but the encore is yet to come. The crowd go wild for 'Don't Marry Her'. This is one song I did miss Jackie's vocals on, and he did add that he "wanted to thank all the band for staying together especially when Jacqueline left".
I waited for 'A Little Time' but sadly it never appeared (well I suppose when you've lost two female vocalists in 10 years there are some songs that are better left to the original versions). 'Good As Gold' ended the party atmosphere and sent 5,000 happy people home.
The Point had certainly been painted red.