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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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It’s happy hour again when Paul Heaton appears in Ulverston

REVIEW: Paul Heaton, Old Farmhouse, Ulverston, Wednesday May 17

A DOG wins Britain’s Got Talent? The Premier League title is decided by two injury time goals in the final game of the season?

Yeah right – next you’ll be telling me Paul Heaton turned up in Ulverston to sing Housemartins and Beautiful South classics.

Well, for 175 lucky punters that unlikely scenario became reality at The Old Farmhouse on Wednesday night, when the travelling Heaton show rode into town as part of his latest musical bicycle tour.

The former Housemartins and Beautiful South front man is celebrating his 50th birthday by pedaling 2,500 miles – 50 miles for each year he’s been on the planet – as part of a campaign to help support traditional pubs.

The Old Farmhouse was Heaton’s second stop on his 50:50 tour – which started at his own Kings Arms pub in Salford on Tuesday – and will take in 33 shows spanning 40 days around the UK and Ireland.

Old Farmhouse landlord Neil Southworth and his partner Mandy Boyle are both massive Heaton fans and they put the pub forward as a venue for the tour, and what an inspired move it proved.

Brushing aside an energy-sapping 70-mile bike ride from Burnley, and helped by his recent conversion to Kendal mint cake (or “fossilised toothpaste” as he put it!) Heaton and his band were on fire, producing a blistering set of past and present material.

The acoustics were spot-on in the huge converted barn and the atmosphere electric, and after being warmed up by the mellow sounds of support act Gus Devlin, the stage – Happy 50th birthday banner and all – was set for Heaton.

The quality of his recent solo work shone through with high points including the uplifting Little Red Rooster and God Bless Texas. Heaton’s vocal on his version of the 60s soul hit A Place In The Sun was stunning and his banter with fellow band mates and the crowd entertaining.

All that was needed now for the privileged few who managed to get tickets, was a taste of his brilliant back-catalogue.

Heaton didn’t disappoint, launching into the Housemartins’ anthem We’re Not Deep from their seminal London 0 Hull 4 album.

The bar had been raised, but Heaton was up to the task, with another Housemartins favourite, Build, delivered superbly.

Blackbird On The Wire from his Beautiful South days was another popular choice, as was Caravan of Love, a number one hit for the Housemartins back in 1986.

There was still time for a rousing encore, Heaton strapping on his guitar for the mighty Me And The Farmer (playing at The Old Farmhouse it had to be, didn’t it?!)

And he left the stage after a stomping rendition of The Clash’s (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais to a rapturous ovation.

Heaton was back on his bike yesterday heading north as the tour continued, leaving happy memories behind of a great performance and a great night.

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