This is the final hurrah for music's most famous - and proud - redhead, Mick Hucknall. It's the end of an era for Simply Red, a band Hucknall has been the driving force behind since they started out in Manchester in the mid 80s. And it's been quite a blue-eyed soul-meets-catchy pop reign for the curly, fiery red-haired singer - even if just as many people adore Hucknall's unique, high and husky lilt, as loathe it.
In the band's 25-year career they have released ten albums, sold more than 55 million records ... and then there's the hit songs. In fact, it's a show like this one that makes you realise how many hits Hucknall and co have come up with - and they trot them out tonight.
"We're going to take you on a journey through the last 25 years - sing along," he says.
And the show stretches from 1985's breakthrough single
Money's Too Tight (To Mention)
, with a rough and ready audience chant of "we're talking about money, money ...", to the sentimental and touching
Holding Back the Years
, which he signs off with a "Thank you for all these years", and on to
, with its juicy Hall and Oates sample from
I Can't Go For That
, and the silky smooth white-boy funk of
It's Only Love
The star-studded encore includes
, the 1991 song that marked the band's popular peak, and
, a song 15 years old but sounding better than ever with its laidback and trancey rhumba groove (until the chorus erupts in an all-in crowd sing-a-long.)
Besides the music, it has to be said, the ladies love Hucknall, who is looking dapper in a blue suit jacket, baby blue shirt and jeans. While he may not be among music's best looking, one can only assume the attraction is that voice of his. Because the guy can sing, as he shows on the rousing
You Make Me Feel Brand New
(where he's holding the microphone down by his tummy), and on the serenading sweetness of
For Your Babies
(where he whispers in a powerful falsetto).
So see you later Mick, nice to have known you - and the ladies, especially, are going to miss you.