Can you believe it’s been 35 years since Paul Young released his album, ‘No Parlez’? His debut record as a solo artist, it reached the number one spot on the UK albums chart, and stayed there for a total of five weeks (non-consecutively), while remaining in the top 100 for 119 weeks altogether.
The initial singles released from the record, ‘Iron Out The Rough Spots’,and ‘Love Of The Common People’ didn’t make much of a dent, but in the summer of 1983 Young released his version of the Marvin Gaye classic, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’: the track smashed into the number 1 spot in both the UK and Ireland, and seeing top ten success in Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. This was the first of Paul’s 14 singles in the UK top 40; follow up ‘Come Back And Stay’ peaked at number 4, while reaching number 1 in Germany, Switzerland, and New Zealand, while a re-release of ‘Love Of The Common People’ appears to have made the UK public realise what a treasure they had in their midst – the song reached number 2 here and broke into the top 10 in 6 countries around the world, including number 1s in Ireland and The Netherlands.
Given the success of ‘No Parlez’, which spawned a total of 5 songs as singles, it’s no wonder Young wanted to commemorate its anniversary.
We caught up with the tour at the London Palladium, famous as the venue for the Royal Variety Performance. Sitting in the Royal Circle – but not the Royal Box – we felt as though we had the best seats in the house, with a front and centre view of the stage.
Preceding Paul’s show was an hour-long set by Jackaman, comprising the velvet tongued Lynne Jackaman and guitarist and producer Jamie Evans. Lynne told the audience about her debut album, which she recorded last year at the world famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, in Alabama. Artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James have all recorded at the studios – the opportunity to join such names must have been mindblowing. Lynne mentioned that her mother was in the audience, and many of us came close to tears (happy tears) when she said, even though it was a full house at such a famous venue – and that was an overwhelming thought – she was really only singing to one person. Such a wonderful experience! You can find out more about Jackaman and her music here.
It’s the third time I’ve seen Paul perform, and the first time I’ve seen him perform as a headline act. The first time was two years ago with his Tex-Mex Band, Los Pacaminos, who got together back in 1992 and have formed a tight-knit group that tours regularly around the UK. The second time was last year when he performed as part of “Step Back 80s“, at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. This time was definitely different. Everyone in the room was there to see just one man, and the love in there was palpable.
Paul came on stage to thunderous applause, many of his fans having been to other concerts on this tour, some of whom he obviously knew quite well. Fans were of all ages at the London show, and from the oldest to the youngest we were all there to have a good time, singing at the tops of our voices, waving our arms, clapping our hands.
It was clear Paul was enjoying himself too, and had a lot of banter with his long serving band, “The Royal Family” – appropriate for a gig at the Palladium – and his backing singers, Polly Pearce and Izzy Warner, who did a great job as the “Fabulous Rich Tarts” (a nod to Paul’s original backing vocalists The Fabulous Wealthy Tarts).
Paul Young is nothing if not a showman. He worked his way through the ‘No Parlez’ album, his patter flowing seamlessly. When he launched into ‘Love Of The Common People’ it was clear he had us where he wanted us. Upon singing ‘No Parlez’ he explained that the song was about transparency in the government. Thirty five years on the song is as relevant as it was back then.
Everyone knew all the songs, and it was wonderful to hear the audience singing ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’, word perfect. Perhaps my favourite of the night was Paul’s cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. It too featured on ‘No Parlez’, but in Paul’s hands it’s got a more R&B feel than the original. ‘Come Back And Stay’ was prefaced by Paul saying to the audience,
“I’ve been singing this song for 35 years now, which you guys made a hit, so you should know the chorus by now!”
Of course we did!
Apart from tracks on ‘No Parlez’, there was also a song by The Q-Tips, Paul’s band before he went solo, as well as ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’, which featured on his 1985 album, ‘The Secret Of Association’. From that album also came ‘Everytime You Go Away’, which has long been his closing number. And just like in the song, we took a piece of Paul Young with us. Hopefully he took a piece of us with him as well.
Paul Young continues on his ’35 Years Of No Parlez’ tour in Hull on 30 October. See here for tickets and further details.
Paul Young is online on Twitter, Facebook, and his official website. You can buy his most recent album, ‘Good Thing’, from Amazon and iTunes, and stream it on Spotify. Los Pacaminos’ albums, ‘The Early Years’, and ‘A Fistful Of Statins’ (as well other merch, including Paul’s cookbook, ‘Recipes Found On My Travels’) can be found on their website (follow them on Twitter and Facebook too).