"I'm a trade union man and I never cross a picket line," [B]Paul Heaton[/B] tells [a]NME[/a] after cancelling important US show...

THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH scrapped the only headlining gig of their current US tour at the last minute because they didn't want to cross a picket line.

The band, currently supporting Barenaked Ladies across North America, decided not to play their headlining date at New York's Irving Plaza last week to show solidarity with the venue's protesting union workers who are striving for better working conditions and union recognition.

Lead singer Paul Heaton explained that the band are all union members and once they discovered the reason for the pickets said they could not bring themselves to become 'scabs' and cross the line.

Speaking from Boston, Heaton said they listened to the venue's management as well as the striking workers before they decided to ditch their performance there.

It would have been one of the biggest headline gigs the band had played in the States - 1,100 capacity - where they are mostly unknown.

Heaton conceded that the band still were not totally clear on the complexities of the issues involved, but that their belief in the importance of trade unions was the most important factor.

"It was disappointing that we couldn't play, but I'm a trade union man and I never cross a picket line at the end of the day if I feel it's a justified picket line. After we'd listened to both sides, that's what we felt.

"It was a big decision, 'cos people had already started turning up in cars from places like Atlanta, but we'd never want to endanger the security people get from being in a union."

The band managed to reschedule the gig for August 2 at NY's smaller Supper Club venue.

"Unfortunately, that means we've got to do seven gigs in a row because of that, so I could really knacker my voice."

However, he concluded it would be worth it. Their current album, 'Quench', is about to be released in the US, their first 'proper' release, as their other albums had not been widely available due to low-key distribution.

The band play V99 on August 21 & 22.

Tickets for V99 are available from's 24-hour ticketline on 0870 121 0125 or click here to go to our online gig guide and ticket service.

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