Youd expect a place called Coldharbour to be near the sea, but confusingly, its in the heart of the Surrey countryside down a lot of narrow country lanes that at this time of the year run through gorgeous bluebell woods with distant views of rolling hills. Unfortunately, this rural loveliness was lost on us as we started to panic about not finding the pub in time to hear the fabulous voice of Paul Heaton, playing his most southerly gig on his perilous Pedals and Pumps tour (hes had several run-ins with drivers and got knocked off on his way to our gig by the landlord of the previous pub, who was cycling with him).
This show could have run for several more hours and wed all have been very happy. His intelligent lyrics, punchy in the more rocky numbers and soothing and sensuous in the ballads hit home much more live than they do on recordings, and hes a great front man dancing and running around the stage, which was adventurous given the small barn we were crammed into at the back of the pub. A combination of new songs, older solo stuff and loudly-welcomed Housemartins numbers made for a night that, at £15 a head, was the best-value gig Ive been to in a long time. With an encore that included a great piece of political writing, performed with total conviction, only the need to get back and pay the babysitter stopped me from staying to buy the man a pint and talk about saddle sores and a Tory party in government.
Its gigs like this that remind you why you love live music in the first place. The proximity to the band, the vibrations through the floor and the connection with the music were fantastic at this gig and Paul, whos cycling between each pub on this 3 week tour had more energy than anyone averaging 60 miles a day should reasonably expect to conjure up. Support band Gus Devlin and The Resistance was a soulful-folky-country start to the evening and with Gus joining Paul on the cyclethon, itll be interesting to see how theyre both sounding at the last gig in Chorlton in a couple of weeks time.
Photos C/O dr-photography.com