Brixton Academy, London
5 / 5
The Guardian, Wednesday November 26 2008
On a giant screen is an image of John Lennon, the former Beatle who always believed the number nine was lucky. On the stage below struts Paul Weller, his rejuvenated career proof that Lennon was right.
Weller’s ninth album, 22 Dreams, has garnered the Modfather his best reviews for a decade. Dispensing with the dadrock he has been mired in since the mid 1990s, the double album is awash with dreamy folk, lush psychedelia and Philly soul, linked by unlikely interludes into krautrock and free-form jazz. At 50, Weller is celebrating being once again at the vanguard of British rock with the first of three sold-out shows at the Brixton Academy.
Weller bounces up and down, wolf-whistles down his mic and throws a triumphant hand in the air. “Oh, it’s good to be home!” he says, gleefully.
The classic rock of Peacock Suit and Changingman feed off the energy of new songs like 22 Dreams. The subtly nuanced songs All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You) and Have You Made Up Your Mind slot snugly beside You Do Something to Me and an effects-driven, dub-version of Wild Wood.
That’s Entertainment and The Butterfly Collector are highlights of an unplugged segment, while Eton Rifles sees Weller playing so hard his guitar strap breaks. Though he gets lost in the meandering Picking Up Sticks and mundane Wishing on a Star, Weller has still re-acquired the power to surprise and doesn’t disappoint with a thought-provoking, if mood-killing, montage of scenes from 9/11, the Vietnam War and JFK’s assassination. Temporarily stunned into silence, the crowd’s boisterious chants bring Weller skipping back for not one but two encores, his confidence sky high. Or as he puts it: “Fucking yes!”
From The Guardian