Paul Heaton is a happy man.
The veteran singer-songwriter has enjoyed 30 years of success – and it shows no signs of slowing down yet.
Reunited with Jacqui Abbott, the pair’s latest single The Austerity of Love is getting plenty of airplay on BBC Radio 2, ahead of the release of their new album, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines on Friday, October 23.
The album is the second from Paul and Jacqui, following the critically acclaimed What Have We Become, which saw them return together on record for the first time since the multi-million selling days of The Beautiful South.
Paul says: “Jacqui is one of the best singers I’ve worked with and is also part of my past.
“This new album came together easily, because we work so well together.
“The album title, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines, derives from a line in one of the songs and it sort of sums up where I am in life.”
The pair are heading out on tour next week, and have already been forced to add extra dates “due to phenomenal demand”.
Jacqui says “It’s just great to be singing again and I’m excited about playing these new songs live.
“We had such a good run together previously and it’s just a real pleasure to be working with Paul again and singing these fantastic songs.”
And Paul says he is happier now then he has ever been.
“I personally I have got happier as I ve got older,” he says, acknowledging the difficulty he had coping with the fame thrust upon him through the phenomenal success of his first band, The Housemartins.
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There’s always a good atmosphere at Sheffield gigs and people are friendly toward me and give a lot of supportPaul Heaton
Merseyside-born, 53-year-old Paul is an adopted son of Sheffield due to living in the city as a child and his well-publicised support of Sheffield United.
And he is bringing the tour to the city with a sell-out show at Sheffield’s 02 Academy on Friday, October 30.
“I have got a good connection to the city,” Paul says.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone longer than three years without playing it.
“It used to be a bit of a pain, to be honest, because there were so many people to put on the guest list.
“It’s still very much in my heart.
“There’s always a good atmosphere at Sheffield gigs and people are friendly toward me and give a lot of support.”
And Paul says his stage persona has changed as he has got older.
“I think if people ever saw me in the older days, now I am a lot more open on stage,” he says, “I tell stories about songs and their history.
“I am older and wiser and not as shy as I was.
“People who come along can hear songs from their past, from The Housemartins, Beautiful South songs and songs from the new album.”
He is interrupting his efforts choosing songs for the upcoming tour to talk.
“I’ve been trying to work on the setlist,” he says.
“I have a little system. I have lots of bits of paper with the songs on and I move them around. It’s quite good fun.”
And Paul has a huge back catalogue of songs – as well as the new album tracks – to choose from.
The Housemartins enjoyed a number of top-20 hits in the mid-to-late 1980s, including 1986 chart-topper Caravan of Love.
The Beautiful South enjoyed even more success, with a string of hit singles from 1989 until 2006, including Song for Whoever, Rotterdam, Perfect 10, You Keep It All In and 1989 chart-topper A Little Time.
With such a big back catalogue, Paul can rotate songs on his tours, so he does not get tired of them.
“I don’t mind playing them, as long as it doesn’t feel painful, songs that become a little meaningless.
“It’s like telling the same joke every night on stage. You have to be careful how you approach it, but a lot of people want to hear them.
“Having a lot of songs, I have got a chance to play around with it.”