Even without Paul Heaton, the hub in the wheel of the Beautiful South, this sell-out gig turns out to be mighty fine.
There were no doubt a few worried glances among fans when the band announced a few years ago they were re-forming without their lyricist and lead singer (Heaton deciding to stick with his solo career).
Because of Heaton’s absence, they removed the word ‘Beautiful’ and began again as The South.
Thankfully, though, the spirit remains and even though Heaton’s trademark acerbic vocals and charisma as a frontman are missed, the strength of the band’s back catalogue means in the end it doesn’t really matter.
By the time The South closed proceedings with A Little Time, the whole of – and please excuse me for the turn of phrase if you were there – a rather mature audience were on their feet dancing. That doesn’t happen too often at the Lowther.
With Dave Hemingway (his voice still as beautifully tender as it was 20 years ago), sharing vocal duties with Alison Wheeler, and the band including an excellent brass section, hits like Perfect 10, Don’t Marry Her, Old Red Eyes Is Back and Song For Whoever were performed superbly.
Dream A Little Dream and One Last Love Song were particular highlights too.
Band comebacks don’t always work out for the best, especially when the main man opts out. Thankfully this project is holding up, not least because The South are writing new material and released an album which, judging by the handful of songs played from it here, is worth a listen.
For the main though, this was a night of nostalgia, of being transported back to the 90s, of being reminded what a unique and witty band The Beautiful South were and the number of fine tunes they wrote.
Heaton is missed no doubt about it, but this was still a thoroughly enjoyable night that turned into a giant singalong way before the end.