Simply Red, O2 Arena

So goodbye then, Mick Hucknall. Or at least, goodbye Simply Red. After 25 years, over 55million album sales and universal adulation and opprobrium in equal measure, the Mancunian pop soul crew is finally calling it a day.

Hucknall, the ginger face of the band, has got his house in order; gone is the ruby tooth, the self-satisfied swagger, the excessive drinking and womanising. An unofficial Hucknall Sorry Day saw him publicly apologise to the 3,000 women he slept with in the Eighties. Now middle-aged, married and with a kid and a solo career on the way, his priorities are different and his band disbanded.

"They wanted us to cancel tonight, but where would that leave you?" the former art school punk tells a crowd that has battled through the snow to see him. Hucknall doesn't disappoint; kitted out in jeans, waistcoat and dark glasses, and flanked by his various band members (a line-up whose names, frankly, have never mattered), he churns out the hits with an understated showmanship befitting his blue-eyed, MOR sound.

And what hits: love him or loathe him, there's no denying that Hucknall knows how to write a tune. Right from Come to My Aid, the opening track on their 1985 debut album Picture Book, through easy listeners such as A New Flame and Stay, syrupy ballads including For Your Babies and Stars and funky, complex numbers like the critically-panned Fairground, the hooks are relentless and the melodies unerringly soulful.

While paeans to departed crooners Teddy Pendergrass and Barry White (It's Only Love is introduced in a gravelly basso-profundo) lay bare his money-spinning template, the chugging lovers' rock of Gregory Isaacs's Night Nurse (produced for Simply Red by Sly and Robbie in 1997) reminds us that there's a reggae-loving soul boy under the slick exterior. The voice, however, has proved equally enduring, maturing over time like a good Chianti; smooth and wide-ranging, it comes into its own on the last encore, a genuinely moving version of Holding Back the Years, performed solo on guitar.

Simply Red - 2010 is the year to say "Farewell"