Wota Nice Day At Eden Rifles
Monday, July 13, 2009, 14:50
This Is Plymouth.co.uk
IT WAS a beautiful bucolic evening beneath the biomes’ brilliant blisters and about as far removed from a tube station at midnight as you can get, but amazingly we were all in mortal danger of imminent combustion.
And this despite – irony of ironies during an anti-climate change event – the fact that it was chucking it down.
But there I was being told by a glow-in-the-dark official to move because I was blocking a ‘fire escape’, cunningly disguised as the path next to the crowd next to the front of the stage.
This request left me somewhat confused, unable to envisage how a conflagration could get a foothold at an outdoor event, in a giant garden that was rapidly turning into a giant pond.
But, silly me, what I didn’t realise was Paul Weller was about to take the stage and set us all alight even with songs called Sea Spray and Out of the Sinking.
And, boy, was the Modfather on fire. This guy was on such red hot form it was a wonder he didn’t spontaneously combust. At one point his stage lights turned the raindrops gold – it was like he’d melted the sun.
And this with a passion that has been burning for more than three decades and which has seen his core audience morphing from leather-and parka-clad guttersnipes into the populace of Henman Hill.
Honestly, I haven’t seen so many middle England families having a laugh since the last time I didn’t go to Glastonbury. I never thought the day would come when Paul would play to more pushchairs than punks, but it has.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It’s great for people from the middle class, middle aged, and, judging by the look of some, middle earth, to get a load of a man angrier than heat rash.
Who, other than Paul, can take the pop beauty of Come On Let’s Go and make it sound like it’s sung by an American wrestler?
You want fervor? He’s got greenhouses full of the stuff, and it was brought to the fore on radiant renditions of From the Floorboards Up and a terrific Eton Rifles.
It was a master class in controlled aggression, and something support act Florence and the Machine would do well to study.
She was all right, in a no sandals, drippy druid sort of way, but took the recycling theme a mite too far by dredging up memories of everyone from Kate Bush to Tori Amos and not forgetting dear old Grace Slick.
But Paul isn’t all aggro, casting his net over soul, pop, Latino and balladry, strutting you through Peacock Suit, inviting you to dance with 22 Dreams and holding you spellbound during a delicious Wildwood.
And by the time he closed with a fulminating Town Called Malice, it was obvious that anyone and everyone can be a Weller fan. That includes ageing mods, repentant skins, pensioners, people wearing cagoules, and judging by a couple of gravid ladies, the unborn.
It was like he’d brought the whole country together to sing as one about lights going out and a kick in the biomes. Now, That’s Entertainment.