The South head north

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Nineties classics such as Rotterdam, and Perfect 10 will be filling the air at Galashiels Volunteer Hall on Saturday, July 19, when The South roll into town.

The omission of the word Beautiful aside, the band have been going since the late 1980s with some of the founding members still very much in the mix.

The Beautiful South struck chart gold with the likes of A Little Time, Song For Whoever and the aforementioned duo of hits from their Blue Is The Colour and Quench albums of 1996 and 1998. The voice behind many of the famous songs, Jacqui Abbott, left at the turn of the millennium and The Beautiful South folded in 2007 after original member Paul Heaton decided to call it a day.

The decision came as a big blow to Alison Wheeler, who’d joined the band in 2002 after impressing Dave Hemmingway during a recording session.

Alison had left university and gone to London in search of fame, going to audition after audition and working at a record company in the hope of getting her big break.

That came after Alison and two other singers in a gospel choir she was part of were asked to record with Dave and then, after a year long wait, she found out she was in The Beautiful South.

“I’d been away on holiday and while I was away I was actually thinking about turning my back on my music in favour of a ‘proper job’,” she explained.

“So to come home to a handwritten letter from Paul Heaton saying I’d got the job was the best welcome home present ever!

“I remember telling my dad and he seemed completely unphased; he was probably thinking, ‘oh, she’s joined another band’.

“It wasn’t until he went to the pub, told his mates and their jaws hit the floor that he realised what a big deal it was for me.”

Having only been a member for five years when Paul decided to pursue other projects, Alison was crushed, but thankfully she wasn’t the only one who saw that the band had legs.

“I was only three albums in and very much still in the honeymoon period,” she continued.

“Our drummer Dave Stead called up and said he wanted to keep going and in the end six of us agreed to go forward.

“We felt calling ourselves The Beautiful South would be a misnomer as we’d lost two of our oldest members Paul and Dave (Rotheray). We originally settled on The New Beautiful South, but it just wasn’t right, so we changed to The South which is what a lot of the die hard fans called us anyway.”

Although they still had a wealth of hits at their disposal, The South had to start from scratch.

They recently released their album Sweet Refrains and are now in the middle of a 67-date UK tour which will take them well into the autumn.

They still have a loyal fanbase and Alison said it is a real honour for her to sing some of the classics.

“Before I joined the band, my favourite Beautiful South tracks were ‘Rotterdam’ and ‘Don’t Marry Her’ and they’re my favourites to perform on stage now as the crowd go mental for them.”