A little time... with The South

The South come to Rothes Halls, Glenrothes on November 22
The South come to Rothes Halls, Glenrothes on November 22

Over three decades The Beautiful South became a household name and sold over 15 million albums.

However after years of success the band disbanded in 2007.

Although some band members weren’t ready to call time.

Original members Dave Hemingway and Alison Wheeler went on to form The South with mainstays Damon Butcher, Tony Robertson and Gaz Birtles (keyboards and brass since the very beginning of The Beautiful South).

Other band members are Steve Nutter, Phil Barton, Dave Anderson and Karl Brown.

The talented nine piece continue to celebrate the music of The Beautiful South and take on the challenge of creating new material for the band.

The South have enjoyed a successful year so far touring the country and playing festivals, and now they are looking forward to finishing this year visiting a few places they’ve never been before.

Among them is a date at Rothes Halls in Glenrothes on November 22.

Since forming, The South have released one highly acclaimed album, ‘Sweet Refrains’ and with 64 gigs this year, there’s life in the old dogs yet as they bring The Beautiful South’s music, that has become an integral part of a nation’s psyche and the soundtrack to many people’s lives, back to audiences around the country.

Alison Wheeler was brought into The Beautiful South by Dave Hemmingway and went on to feature on the ‘Gaze’, ‘Goldiggas Headnodders and Pholk Songs’, and ‘Superbi’ albums.

She took time out last week to speak to The Press ahead of the band’s upcoming gig in the Kingdom.

And she said that the tour so far has been going well.

She told the Press: “It’s been amazing.

“It’s still like when I joined The Beautiful South in 2002, it still feels shiny and new to me getting out on the road.

“We’re normally on the road for three or four weeks at a time, but this year we’ve done more gigs and over a longer period of time.

“Since February it’s been predominantly Friday through Sunday, which is great so I can be a mum during the week and then go and enjoy the gigs at the weekend.”

And she said she’s looking forward to coming to Glenrothes.

“I love coming to Scotland,” she continued.

“There’s always great crowds and it’s a beautiful part of the world.

“Living in the south of London you don’t get the open rolling hills.”

So what can those attending the sold-out gig in the Kingdom expect?

“Obviously people want to hear the old stuff and we’re happy to keep playing the back catalogue,” she said.

“There’s probably three quarters of the set that’s the old classics people want to hear or a lot of the time people have forgotten the song, but they are already in everyone’s psyche and the other quarter is new material.

“Our album ‘Sweet Refrains’ is two years old now, but we’re really proud of it.

“It sits nicely with the old stuff but I think you can see we’ve grown.”

And with the set packed full of hits, a real favourite for Alison is ‘Don’t Marry Her’ because of the cheeky lyrics, though she does sometimes wince if there are lots of children at the show.

She said: “People often come up to me and say, ‘do you have to say that word’ and I just tell them that even if I didn’t the rest of the audience would!”

So with the shows continuing to prove popular and filling up across the country, what is it about The Beautiful South’s music that continues to make it popular?

“If you’re looking at Paul and Dave’s writing in the past it hit a note with a lot of people,” she said.

“The stories are timeless and didn’t date. The tunes, still 20 years on, like for example ‘Song for a Lover’ still sounds as good as it ever did.”

As it’s been a busy 12 months for The South, what’s been the highlight of the past year?

“We’ve done some amazing festivals and opened at Rewind in Perth and Henley.

“There was 30,000 people and we were opening the show and watching a sea of hands clapping and singing along to ‘Rotterdam’.”

Alison revealed that the band hope to work on a new album at the beginning of next year, before touring again later in 2015.

She said: “You get different things from recording and gigging.

“You are only as good as your audience and they really get in to the music.

“When I go to a gig I listen and absorb the music, but our fans seem to enjoy going mental.

“When I go and see an act it’s usually because they’ve got an album out and then I’ll go and see them when they’ve got another album out.

“But we’ve had fans coming to seven or eight gigs in one year.

“They are coming again and again.

“ It never gets boring.

“The fans have been amazing and the fact they keep coming back is great.”

The South play Rothes Halls, Glenrothes on Saturday, November 22