The first was Franz Ferdinand, but they were on whilst I was on holiday. I actually booked tickets for the Ting Tings, but then they cancelled the gig!
So, 3rd time lucky and I booked to go and see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, formerly of the Beautiful South (and Heaton of the Housemartins before that). Mandy and I had really enjoyed The South, but though there were mostly former Beautiful South members, the voices you recall from the "Beautiful South" are Heaton's and Abbott's.
I saw them perform at Glastonbury, via the magic of the BBC i-Player and thought there were OK, but maybe not great, but still, a gig's s a gig and usually fun.
Fortunately, amidst a dreadful Summer to that point, the weather played ball and it was a pleasantly warm, dry evening as I walked from Waterloo to the Strand and into Somerset House's open courtyard. There was a bit of a queue to get in and huge queues for the food and drink stands around the courtyard.
In the centre, at one end, was a stage, rather like those you see at Festivals, but a little smaller, I guess. I needed the loo after an hour on the train, so walked around behind the stage and downstairs to the Gents. Business done, I headed back upstairs where a long haired woman in jeans was smoking a cigarette as people passed by her. I did the typical double take, but sure enough, it was Jacqui Abbott! No-one else seemed to notice her and I decided to not be the tongue-tied fan (What would I say? "I hope your good tonight" or "Have fun" or "Do you think smoking is good for your voice, let alone your lungs?") and returned to the front of the stage.
As I'd queued to get in the support band had finished, so I can't tell you who the were or if they were any good.
The band appeared first and then Paul and Jacqui joined them.
They started with Wives 1,2 & 3, which whilst a post "B.S." song is very like their output and it was a good, upbeat number to start with, followed up with the classic "Old Red Eyes Is Back", which had all the crowd around me singing along.
They slowed things down with Real Hope and Have Fun (another Beautiful South song, but one I must admit I didn't recall) and then another more recent song "The Horse and Groom".
Whilst later, post "Beautiful South" songs were applauded, the real enthusiasm was for the big hits and it was good to hear some Housemartin tracks included, not least Caravan of Love, performed acapella as the finale to main set.
Rotterdam, Happy Hour, Perfect 10 (in a different, but really enjoyable arrangement) and Don't Marry Her (the naughty version, sung enthusiastically by the crowd) were all great and greeted with rapturous applause.
The audience were mostly 40+ somethings, but there were younger people there too, who clearly had come alone for a fun night out, although the 30 somethings just in front of me impressed me with their knowledge of Beauitful South lyrics - I guess it's not imposssible their parents were fans! There's a sobering thought...
The Setlist records two Encores, which I'd forgotten, but they weren't gone for long before either and delivered up "A Little Time" and "You Keep It All In" followed by
It had been a great night's entertainment. The venue was excellent, the sound impressively balanced and clear for an outdoor venue (maybe Somerset House is blessed with especially good acoustics and chosen for that reason).
Heaton and Abott and their band had been hugely enjoyable (much better than they'd seemed at Glastonbury, I thought, perhaps they enjoyed the smaller crowd?) and I will definitely be back to see other acts at Somerset House if I get the chance!
Wives 1, 2 & 3
Old Red Eyes Is Back(The Beautiful South cover)
Have Fun(The Beautiful South cover)
The Horse and Groom
I Can't Put My Finger on It(The Housemartins cover)
Prettiest Eyes(The Beautiful South cover)
Sundial in the Shade
The Queen of Soho
Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)(The Beautiful South cover)
I Don't See Them
Build(The Housemartins cover)
Don't Marry Her(The Beautiful South cover) (Somerset House additional lyric)
The Austerity of Love
Happy Hour(The Housemartins cover)
Perfect 10(The Beautiful South cover)
Caravan of Love(Isley Jasper Isley cover)
A Little Time(The Beautiful South cover)
You Keep It All In(The Beautiful South cover)
Woman in the Wall(The Beautiful South cover)