Review: Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at KCOM Craven Park


Roger Crow reviews Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott at KCOM Craven Park on Saturday, June 3.

It was never a case of ‘if’ Hull’s favourite singer/songwriter would play here during its status as City of Culture but ‘when’.

And ‘when’ involves ferrying thousands of fans from Paragon Interchange to Craven Park, the largest bus queue I’ve ever stood in.

It’s brilliantly orchestrated, and by the time my wife and I arrive at the home of Hull Kingston Rovers, it’s nice to be stress-free as we settle into our seats to see… a tent and some of the stage beyond it.

I’d waited years to see support act The Divine Comedy, and with the aid of my camera zoom, can just about make Neil Hannon out.

By this point Billy Bragg has already had a go warming up the crowd, but we’ve just missed him.

As long as I see Something for the Weekend, Becoming More Like Alfie and National Express, I’m happy.

Halfway through the set, my better half has a word with the officials; finds us much better seats, and before long we are loving the view from Roger Millward stand.

The comedy is divine once more, and by 9pm the main event appears on a sun-kissed evening to a near deafening reception.

There’s the inevitable mix of old classics and new stuff, including the brilliantly executed Heatongrad and You Keep It All In, to One Last Love Song; Old Red Eyes Is Back; Five Get Over Excited; Rotterdam (Or Anywhere), and Sail This Ship Alone.

Heaton’s lyrics and music are not to be tackled by the faint of heart, and the fact Jacqui Abbott belts out hit after hit like some linguistic gymnast is worth a round of applause alone.

Recording a track like DIY is one thing. You can pause for breath between verses; the complex stuff can be copied and pasted into a hit single, but she never strikes a wrong chord with her latest rendition.

It’s a happy hour (and a half) again as the masses are treated to a masterful display of outstanding songs. The band is breathtakingly good. None of those indulgent drum solos or loose free jazz stylings that some might indulge in.

Everyone loves it, and Heaton’s banter with the crowd is superb. There’s such a tsunami of goodwill toward the acts, it’s hard to believe so many prefer to spend time queuing for drinks instead of enjoying the event.

With a couple of encores, a few pyrotechnics, and some glorious fireworks, the set is a Perfect 10, though from our viewpoint we feel removed from the atmosphere. It’s like watching a brilliant stage play from behind glass.

That aside, it’s still a terrific night with some of the best musicians in the business at the top of their game. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long before they return.

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