It was once said that Paul Weller is the John Lennon of the Grange Hill generation. Judging by the intense admiration his live audiences feel for the 50-year-old musician, there’s a case for arguing that Mr Angry of Woking is in fact bigger than the late Beatle.
As Weller approached the stage, his distinct duck-footed gait and absurd Steve Marriot-style hairstyle easily recognisable, a roar went up that would have done Stamford Bridge on a Saturday afternoon proud. Peacock Suit and Changing Man were delivered in Weller’s tight, punchy style; a style that on a good day could floor Joe Calzaghe.
The poppy and rather naff Style Council hit Shout To The Top was reworked into a foot-stomping number that sent the audience into a swaying, baying mob. This was followed by The Jam’s Eton Rifles, hilariously cited by Old Etonian David Cameron as being a seminal influence, that virtually had them storming the ramparts.
This appetite for his old hits is a cross which Weller bears with good grace; pausing to thank the audience for being livelier than the previous evening’s lot. A move which had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. The psychedelic version of Porcelain God, Wishing On A Star and the brilliant Brand New Start were proof that Weller is at his best in front of a London audience. There’s something about the geezerishness of Weller that clicks with fans in the capital unlike, say, Glastonbury or Birmingham.
In return for airing the old faves, the audience was subjected to a brief interval of what can best be described as tapas bar music – Weller, guitarist Steve Craddock and the crew all plonking themselves on Val Doonican stools for an acoustic orgy of some length. Patience and tolerance were rewarded with a guitarless Weller crooning Wild Wood; an anthem that never fails to hit the crowd’s sweet spot. And talking of sweet spots, nothing could have been sweeter than the encore of Town Called Malice. Who would have thought that the 1982 Jam hit of washed-up, broke Britain would have as much relevance 26 years later.
From This Is London