Paul Heaton's The 8th and greatest hits double-bill for summer 2012

The former Beautiful South star is bringing his acclaimed 'soul opera' The 8th and a selection of his most memorable hits for a handful of special summer shows, tickets Friday 23rd March

Paul Heaton's The 8th - Image: Manchester International Festival
Paul Heaton's The 8th
Image: Manchester International Festival

Old red eyes is back. Paul Heaton, unquestionably one of the finest pop songwriters this country has ever known, is planning a clutch of special shows this summer.

After a (very busy) May and June spent on his bike (see below), Heaton is bringing his acclaimed 'soul opera' The 8th back to the stage with a series of performances, coupled with a greatest hits set from the man who has conquered the UK charts on countless occasions, first with the Housemartins and then, even more dramatically, with The Beautiful South.

Don't believe that? In 1994, Carry On Up the Charts - The Best of The Beautiful South was the second best-selling album of the year. No great shakes in the wider scheme of things until you realise '94 was the year of Oasis's Definitely Maybe, Blur's Parklife, Jeff Buckley's Grace, Portishead's Dummy and Nirvana's all-conquering MTV Unplugged in New York. Only one of those out-sold Paul Heaton's collection of white soul and pop kitchen-sink dramas and tales of love, loss and alcoholism.

The great man's red eyes may have faded along with his own alcohol issues but his creative juices continue to flow with The 8th premiering in Manchester last year. With guest singers including Cherry Ghost, ex-Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott and Los Campesinos! vocalist Gareth Paisey, it explores the seven deadly sins, all underpinned by playwright Ché Walker's narrative, delivered by The Wire's Reg E Cathey. Paul will follow the soul opera with a greatest hits set like few others.

The 8th/Greatest Hits tour kicks off at London's Barbican Centre on 5th July, followed by Salford, Leeds (at MFest 2012), Sheffield and Birmingham, before the last date at Latitude 2012 on 12th July 2012. We will have tickets from 9am on Friday 23rd March, priced from £20 for the headline shows, more for festivals.

Ahead of all of that, Paul Heaton is spending May and June on his bike on the 50/50 Tour. The 2,500-mile jaunt sees the singer perform at a variety of pubs, covering an average of 50 miles for each of his 50 years on earth (he turns 50 on 9th May - happy birthday Paul). We have tickets available now, priced £15/£18.

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