Former Housemartins and Beautiful South singer Paul Heaton is set to get back on his bike for another cycling tour of Britain playing gigs at pubs en route, and if he fancies a residency, one venue is guaranteed – he’s just bought the lease to the pub in Salford where he already rehearses in the upstairs room.
That pub, the King’s Arms, will stage the opening night of his 50/50 tour next May, which will see the singer, who turns 50 that month - we're guessing the other 50 is the number of dates on the tour - pedal a total of 2,500 miles from venue to venue.
It's a repeat of the format he successfully adopted during his Pedals and Pumps tour in 2009, only on a much bigger scale – that previous tour covered 720 miles.
Next year’s itinerary through England, Scotland and Wales hasn’t been finalised yet, and while Heaton has had plenty of offers from pubs looking to book him for the night, he’s also issued an appeal for others to come forward.
One area in which a venue is currently being sought is Dumbarton in South West Scotland, with local newspaper the Lennox Herald issuing a call for interested publicans to get in touch with the singer.
“We’re looking to play in Dumbarton or Arrochar as they fit in with the route that Paul is looking to follow as he cycles,” explained drummer Pete Marshall.
“This kind of tour is being organised to highlight the fact that so many pubs around the UK are closing.
“Hopefully using the venues we are aiming for will encourage people to visit their local when they wouldn’t normally support it.
“We’re also aiming to promote cycling. Paul will cycle a total of around 2,500 miles over the course of the tour and some journeys between gigs will be over 100 miles.
“We’ve had some fantastic offers from pubs throughout the country so far and it’s something we’re really looking forward to.”
Heaton shot to fame with the Housemartins in 1986 when their song Happy Hour reached number three in the charts. Shortly before Christmas that year, they topped the charts with a cover of the Isley Brothers’ Caravan of Love, a feat Heaton repeated in 1990 with The Beautiful South’s A Little Time, which he co-wrote.
For now, Marshall is unable to guarantee that the hits for which Heaton is best known will get an airing on next year’s tour, however.
“I’m not sure what material will be played. There was Housemartins material on the Pedals and Pumps tour but I don’t know about this one.
“We did a show in Manchester recently when Paul was working on ‘The 8th’. We had numerous different singers involved and a couple of them performed Beautiful South songs.
“However, we’re still working on the setlist for this tour.”
Requirements for pubs interested in staging a show are that it should have a capacity of between 80 and 250 people, as well as being able to feed and put up Heaton and his band and crew – six people in all – afterwards.
A number of tickets for the show would be earmarked for pub regulars, the remainder being sold by the pub itself, as well as by Ticketmaster and on Heaton’s own website. Any publicans who would like to find out more are asked to //paulheaton5050 [at] hotmail.com" target="_blank">email the singer.
Talking of his own venture into the pub business, Heaton showed his support for community groups that also use the venue. “We’re not going to change or move the clubs that are already there, like the knitting group,” he told Manchester Confidential.
“We’ll keep the live theatre upstairs and we’d quite like to get a radio station up there.
“It’s a bit of a fractured community around the pub, with city centre flats on one side and Salford houses on the other so we want to try and bring those people together a bit more,” he continued.
He said that since he is not drinking at present, he would be “a sober landlord,” but added, “I’ll be spending a fair bit of time there. You’ve got to support the business.”
He’s also been in touch with a crisp manufacturer to get them to bring back his favourite flavour for a limited-edition run.
“I’m desperately trying to get Seabrooks to bring back spring onion flavour, and there’s a chance they might revive it to coincide with my tour. So if you want a bag, you’ll have to pay £15 for a gig ticket.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.