• Imogen Bebb

‘35 Years of No Parlez’- Paul Young at Cheltenham Town Hall

16th October 2018

For me, the mark of a good gig is when you want to see the whole set again as soon as it’s over. And that was exactly how I felt after seeing Paul Young and his band at Cheltenham Town Hall, as part of the tour celebrating 35 years since the release of Young’s debut album ‘No Parlez’. Although these days you will probably be able to find a copy in most of your local charity shops, people often do not realise the ridiculous number of copies it sold on release (just over 900,000), or that it was certified triple platinum in the U.K. and remained in the album charts for over two years. The gig itself saw the entirety of ‘No Parlez’ played although not in order, with the tracks from the album interspersed with other hits and pieces from elsewhere in Mr Young’s surprisingly large back catalogue. A lot of the ‘80s songs had been changed from the original arrangements (presumably to suit the live shows and to accommodate his now-grittier voice) but this actually worked well, with the R’n’B and soul leanings of the new arrangements lending tracks like ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’, ’I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’, ‘Senza Una Donna’ and ‘Come Back And Stay’ a renewed sense of class and sparkle. This resulted in a nice range of upbeat and slower songs throughout the evening. As the gig progressed the band really got into their stride, particularly when we got to see the slightly more ‘risqué’ side to their performance at the end of the first half (and I’m not just talking about Young’s microphone acrobatics and the fact he performed his frequently-slated cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, both of which he managed to pull off). The night’s unexpected highlight, however, was the original closing track of ‘No Parlez’, ‘Sex’, which had been arranged into something of a sultry, sexy rock anthem much to the delight of the audience. Another surprise favourite was the infectiously smooth ‘Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love’, a cover taken from Young’s most recent album ‘Good Times’ that sails and grooves its way along most satisfyingly, and which both singer and band clearly enjoyed performing. Speaking of the band- they were absolutely fantastic. Their introduction was done during the bridge of the final song so I was unable to catch their names, but in reality they all deserve special mentions here. In particular I really must mention the two female backing singers who gave every song everything they had (dance moves included) and really added extra dimension to an already multi-dimensional show. And whilst it is true that Paul Young’s voice is not what it used to be, this gig proved that the songwriting on ‘No Parlez’- and his ability as a performer- have certainly stood the test of time, and are still as classy as ever. Do yourself a favour, take another listen to the album and get yourself to one (or more) of these gigs. - - - - - 

#PaulYoung #CheltenhamTownHall


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