Paul Heaton finally completes his soul opera ‘The 8th’

Paul Heaton is probably best known as lead singer and founder of The Housemartins and The Beautiful South. Now he has written a soul opera entitled ‘The 8th’. It was inspired by a nightmare that Paul had when he was on holiday in Gran Canaria a few years ago. He had a particularly bad dream one night and in the morning the idea for the soul opera was in his head.

The 8th is written in the style of a pulp fiction novel and it looks at slum life and a violent society through the seven sins. It was first seen at the Manchester International Festival last year. Paul admits that not everyone will understand it but he is not bothered by that, saying that he found the project very liberating.

He actually began work on The 8th back in 2010 with his writing partner from The Beautiful South, Dave Rotheray. Much of that was scrapped and then Paul’s friend and guitarist, Johnny Lexus came in to rework it. Playwright Che Walker also came in to write a lot of the dialogue.

Che Walker also had a hand in the casting by suggesting his friend Reg E Cathey as the narrator. Cathey’s voice and delivery is perfect for joining together the vignettes of the opera. Singers taking part include Jacqui Abbott from the Beautiful South, Simon Aldred and Kenny Anderson of King Creosote.

Paul Heaton has just turned 50 in May. He grew up in Hull and he formed The Housemartins when he was in his twenties. They had a string of hits but disbanded in 1988 and Heaton formed The Beautiful South who enjoyed even greater success. To celebrate his 50th birthday, Paul did a bike tour of the UK covering 2,540 miles and performing in 33 pubs along the way.