Presently reams of choral also rans rant and rave without intensity, eloquence, or direction, with an appetite to cash in on lukewarm squalid humdrum material, there can be little doubt regarding the longevity, ingenuity and razor-sharp inventiveness of Mr Paul Weller. Entering his 64th year he is as indispensable, cutting edge and electrifying as he’s ever been, his presence is even more appreciated in current climates of political misdemeanors and war ridden lands. Just like some greats that have gone before him i.e. John Coltrane, Dr John and Bowie, you never quite know which musical corner Weller will turn up on next, tonight is no exception as a body of admirers congregate in Leicester’s grand De Montford Hall.
Witnessing the Modfather in real time can be an exalted fashion ritual for Weller’s tribes. The die hards who have been there from the word go, having gracefully reached middle age resplendent in Fred Perry. Younger new breeds adorn themselves in what the Woking Wonder is currently parading; Monkey Boots with yellow laces, sharp above ankle trousers, top half comes complete with Sunspel polo and Baracuta Harrington.
Support band The Stroppies sound like a mixture between The Orielles, Madness and The Pixies. With a packed crowd assembled, lights dim and on strides Weller as resplendent as ever. The band break straight in with White Sky, confidence oozing from each of the band.
Back for these dates Andy Crofts deliveries bass lines with assured soul, devastating rhythm section is completed by powerhouse drummer Steve Pilgrim and Ben Gordelier, the latter looking like a dancing member of Kraftwerk, molding some sense out of 1000 gadgets at this disposal. Completing the superlative lineup Tom Van Heel twinkles the A-G’s, stage right forever present Steve Cradock is cool blank faced guitar maestro, adding that little dollop of wizardry to the evening’s proceedings, the band harmonies like the best, and they are. Only Weller can top all this as he strums a 1968 Gibson SG defiantly center stage, vocals sound refined and rich with nearly 50 years of crafting his trade whilst the ivory tinkling befits the grandeur of the evening.
This evenings set list includes a mixture of tracks you know and treasure; 1980 number 1 Start!; Stanley Road’s legendary single You Do Something To Me; northern soul sounding Shout To The Top; acoustic pop sensation Headstart For Happiness; 1991’s debut solo come back tune Into Tomorrow; immortal Broken Stones; under the influence clarion calling That’s Entertainment, Ukraine dedicated Wild Wood and frenzied final ovation of 1982’s Motown bash Town Called Malice. Compositions that might not get as much headlines; 2017’s PP Arnold duet Woo Se Mama sees a welcome return; It’s A Very Deep Sea from 1989’s Confessions Of A Pop Group is touch of genius; Tomorrow Never Knows cousin Brushed plus restored 3 minute perfection Come On, Let’s Go does little but whip the crowd into a frenzy of activity.
A commander of musical artistry, Weller never welcomes second best, historically what has gone before him has been touched with a gift of meaning it, always looking for a new melody, searching his mortal sphere for that perfect riff and so it is this evening, surrounded by a thousand eyes beaming down on their hero, the masterstroke of bringing together his band has paid off again, a dazzling night of showmanship. Another shift done and onto the next work place for a double shift of greatness.
All images copyrighted to Paul Dixon Photography
Check Paul Weller’s website for further news on live dates