Review: Paul Weller, at Forestry Commission Live Music, Cannock Chase Forest
Jun 28 2009 by Alison Dayani
From The Birmingham Post
While Glastonbury opened with pouring rain and the young pretenders, this relatively dry open air concert in Staffordshire had the royalty of Brit rock, the ‘modfather’ himself.
Everything stood to attention as Weller, his inner youth defying the spiky silver hair and wrinkles, casually slinked on stage on Friday night to open the show with ‘Peacock Suit’. Even raindrops gave him the respect he deserved, halting for the 90 minute session.
Aptly moving on to ‘Out of the Sinking’ as the rainclouds moved away, Weller’s years of experience and class were undeniable on vocals and guitar.
The 51-year-old made no mention of Michael Jackson’s passing and it seemed the dignified and right thing to do.
With nine solo albums, not to mention a legendary discography with The Jam and Style Council, Weller had to be selective over which tracks were played in a limited amount of time.
He managed a variety of songs from across the solo years up to the recent 22 Dreams album, which helped clinch him his fourth Brit Award this year for best male solo artist, but there was also a focus on those hits that have defined his illustrious career, such as ‘Changingman’.
The old favourites were always going to enthrall the most and naturally received the biggest response. ‘Shout to the Top’ and ‘Eton Rifles’ were thrown in midway, but like the intelligent and quintessentially cool entertainer that he is, Weller saved the ultimate early classics for an uplifting finale.
The annual Forestry Commission Live Music gig in Cannock, where proceeds go to help sustain Britain’s woodland in a variety of environmental and social projects, is set in a beautifully serene location – a clearing on the Chase in a natural grass amphitheatre surrounded by only tall trees and rustling birds.
In this wondrous atmosphere came one of the most memorable moments of the gig when Weller moved on to the piano and with husky tones soulfully crooned out ‘You Do Something To Me’ as the sun set behind the stage. The perfect place for the perfect song.
Its tingling notes saw mesmerised couples across the Chase unconsciously clinch a little closer together.
Despite the darkness now closing in, Weller looked as though he would have been happy to stay on stage most of the night, but sadly all good things must come to an end.
The singer started a wrap up of the show with ‘The Pebble and the Boy’ before revving things up with two of the The Jam’s sensational hits, ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘A Town Called Malice’.
An electrifying finish to a majestic performance.