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Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott review: Atmospheric, relaxed and magical

PUBLISHED: 11:52 10 June 2018

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Blanc Photography 2013

It was fitting that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott shared a stage with support act Billy Bragg – it was, after all, Bragg who was instrumental in getting The Housemartins signed by Go Discs back in the 1980s, a fact warmly acknowledged by Heaton.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

It was fitting that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott shared a stage with support act Billy Bragg – it was, after all, Bragg who was instrumental in getting The Housemartins signed by Go Discs back in the 1980s, a fact warmly acknowledged by Heaton.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

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I love Billy Bragg (he delivered me my first ever published newspaper article and a husband) so it was a treat to see him play under a canopy of trees – albeit in light drizzle. It was the best performance I’ve seen from him in years (and we first saw him at UEA in 1986, so there are plenty to choose from).

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

After Bragg’s pared-down set, Heaton and Abbott exploded on stage with their fabulous band and gave us an Opening Sermon which swiftly led to an order of service that helped us remember just how majestic and immense Heaton’s song canon is.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

The Lord is a White Con. Rotterdam. Five Get Over Excited. Liars Bar. Don’t Marry Her. Caravan. Good as Gold. Some for Whoever. Perfect Ten. You Keep it all In. A Little Time…Best-of lists don’t get much better and the newer tracks from Crooked Calypso more than hold their own against the sing-along classics.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

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Fabulously, the pair played my very favourite of all: Sail This Ship Alone, the song that has steered endless broken hearts through the sharks and the treasure.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Between songs and amid legions of fans of a certain vintage (ahem) Heaton mused about life, the universe and everything: “I prefer the more cultured southern crowd,” the northerner claimed, tongue firmly in cheek. Bet he didn’t say that in Delamere Forest…

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

And on that note, there was another star to contend with: Thetford Forest itself – what a venue it is; atmospheric, relaxed, magical (thumbs up to the staff, too, who were faultlessly efficient and polite).

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

I am a sucker for clever lyricists and at this Forest Live gig there were two for the price of one: the only thing I could have done without was my persistent moth stalker, although to be fair, the moth was there first.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

·The concert was part of the Forestry Commission’s Forest Live concert series.

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERPaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott perform at Thetford Forest Live for a second year. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Billy Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERBilly Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Billy Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERBilly Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

Billy Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWERBilly Bragg performed supporting headliners at Forest Live in Thetford. Picture: LEE BLANCHFLOWER

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