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29 October 2014
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Paul Heaton wrapped up for the outdoor gig.
Paul Heaton wrapped up for the gig

Beautiful South gig review

It's that time of year when Thetford Forest is turned into a mini-festival site for the picnic-loving masses. We sent Lee Allen to see how beautiful the first band for this gig series found it down south in the midst of woodland.


The Beautiful South have always split opinion: you either love them or hate them. If I'm honest, I've never really been their biggest fan. They've always struck me as being slightly sugary, but I came away from their gig with a new-found respect.

Lee Allen gives the gig 3 out of 5 stars.

Arriving at High Lodge to a carpet of picnic blankets and clinking wine glasses, it was difficult to gauge how the evening was going to go.

It didn’t look like it was going to be the most rocking of nights, as support band Hem were struggling to get a peep out of the dining crowd.

Sellout gig

But all that changes the moment Hull's finest step on the stage. Hampers are packed away, sandwiches are discarded and the sellout crowd of 6,000 people rush to the front of the stage to dance off their tucker.

With a large band including a three-piece horn section, the Beautiful South live experience is a surprisingly rich-sounding night out.

Main man Paul Heaton shares the singing duties with Dave Hemingway and 'new' girl Alison Wheeler, meaning there’s never a dull moment.

Alison Wheeler.
Alison Wheeler

Tonight is a career-spanning greatest hits package covering all the big singles like Rotterdam, Old Red Eyes Is Back and crowd favourite Need A Little Time.

Old tracks dusted down

However, what surprises some people is the inclusion of old songs like Woman In The Wall from the Welcome To The Beautiful South album.

Heaton is fairly chatty throughout despite looking like he doesn’t really want to be there and midway through the set he breaks out into some truly great 'dad' dancing.

After tonight’s performance I understand the group a little better than I did. They are a band of ordinary people playing extraordinary pop songs - ones about everyday life that everyone can relate to.

As the band launch giant balloons into the crowd for their encore, even cynical old me had a little smile on my face.

Beautiful South and Hem played Thetford Forest on Friday 10 June 2005.

Picture credits: Lee Allen.

last updated: 14/06/05
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