Paul Heaton Returns To Hull
By Katy Noone
Ex Beautiful South frontman is back touring with his new band.
With Beautiful South's demise earlier this year it was uncertain whether we'd ever see frontman Paul Heaton in a band again. He'd been gigging pretty much non stop for twenty three years, had enjoyed major critical and commercial success with the band and now, it seemed, was calling it a day.
But he's back. Now based in Manchester, Paul Heaton has recruited his new band from the north west and begins a tour in November which will take in Hull University's Asylum venue on 16th November.
Some of Heaton's earliest gigs were at the University back in The Housemartins' early days. In fact, his first ever gig with Stan Cullimore was in the Student's Union building in 1984. The Smiths were headlining that night and Paul and Stan were stuck away in a small room doing an acoustic set while Morrissey and Marr graced the main University stage. The rest is history. The Housemartins, as a four piece went on to be one of the bright lights of a mid 80's UK music scene dominated by the formulaic Stock Aitken and Waterman. Signed to the fledgling Go Discs label, the band along with label mate Billy Bragg were quite simply a breath of fresh air in a stagnant puddle of music mediocrity that swamped the charts during those bleak years. Live, The Housemartins were better than anyone else and this was much to do with Heaton's infectious frontman showmanship.
Then in 1988, The Housemartins, Hull's self styled fourth best band, were no more and Beautiful South formed out of the ashes, again with musicians drawn from a local scene alight with talent. This, Paul Heaton's new band, went on to much greater success than that achieved by The Housemartins and over the next twenty years, he enjoyed all the trappings of major label success - tours of America, chart success, Top of the Pops appearances and the rest.
So why has Paul Heaton decided to start all over again? He's not saying at this stage but I wonder if this new project, with his songwriting and his amazing vocals taking centre stage once more, is more than just a glance backwards to those early Housemartins days. Four blokes on the road, in a van, playing smallish venues and an audience so close you can see the affect of your songs on their changing faces. It's something you lose when your band "makes it". Perhaps Paul Heaton is re-discovering the essence of what it means to be a musician. I'm glad he is.
last updated: 06/11/07