I’ve always believed that honesty is the best policy and so I have a confession to make about my recent night in the forest with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott.
It’s not big and it’s not clever but if the following details have an impressionistic haziness about them, well that’ll be because I drank more than NHS guidelines say you should.
But what a night had Delamere Forest laid on last Friday (July 1)!
This was a real trip down memory lane for me with numbers taking me back to my youth when Heaton fronted the Housemartins.
Sentimentality was also in the air for another reason as my companion for the night was my oldest Chester friend but someone I had lost touch with and with whom I once saw The Beautiful South back in the day.
Formed by Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway, The Beautiful South had a succession of female vocalists but were probably at their height when Abbott was in the line-up.
So, after setting up our camping chairs on the hill, cracking open the wine, everything felt so comfortable and familiar in terms of the remade acquaintance with my pal but also the fantastic tunes.
Paul Heaton’s down-to-earth charm and deadpan humour made everyone feel at ease within the natural amphitheatre of the setting. And his constant updates on the Wales-Belgium match were greeted with cheers whenever Wales were leading.
I have to be honest for a second time – candour comes so naturally to us journalists – and admit I have not kept up with Heaton and Abbott’s musical careers post The Beautiful South.
So it was the old favourites I enjoyed the most rather than the new songs, like Perfect 10, Prettiest Eyes, Rotterdam, Don’t Marry Her and Old Red Eyes - which was not the only tune to have been given a pleasing reggae revamp.
Heaton’s insightful lyrics and tuneful pop melodies have always connected with me. And when you couple his warm vocals with Abbott’s velvet tones then you have a winning combination.
Many of the songs are tinged with sadness. A Little Time is a heartbreaker. You Keep It All In is thought-provoking.
But then there is Happy Hour, a party tune that had us all bouncing around while the Housemartins’ version of the a cappella classic Caravan of Love brought everyone together at a time when many feel society is divided post that referendum. It was at this point that I linked arms with two women near the front as we shared a drink-induced moment.
The finale was quite showbiz for Heaton with the front-of-stage audience showered in shiny, glittery confetti stuff and bombarded with giant red balloons that were batted around by outstretched hands.
In the words of Five Get Over Excited, another nostalgic number from the night, we had fun, fun, fun.