Gig review: Paul Weller
Published Date: 07 December 2010
By DAVID POLLOCK
Many of we critics have written Paul Weller off over the years, only to be faced with the prospect of eating our words at some point. Although the Modfather’s recent creative lull was a decade-long one, seeing him ply the cocky Alpha-Mod strut and paADVERTISEMENT
storal armchair nostalgia of his Britpop era solo peak to ever-diminishing returns, this year’s Mercury-nominated tenth solo album, Wake Up the Nation, was a return to form.
As is so often the case with the former Jam and Style Council frontman, he stages a doubter-silencing comeback entirely on his own terms. The material from the new album showcased here – including its strident title track, the packed-full Trees (a song “in five movements”, Weller says, from loudhailer-vocal psych-rock to tender piano balladry) and the spaced-out psychedelia of Andromeda – do exactly what he’s been doing for a while now, but with more steely clarity of purpose.
It’s not all successful, with the brisk rocker Fast Car / Slow Traffic getting lost amidst the eye of scaffolding and video screens surrounding Weller and his band, and Pieces of a Dream sounding like a vain attempt to recreate the swamp-blues of Dr John.
Yet in this context, these diverse and inventive efforts weren’t even the main event. There was energy and excitement to the Style Council’s Shout to the Top and the Jam’s Start! and Art School, a still-fresh political edge to the latter band’s Eton Rifles and That’s Entertainment (although Pretty Green is shamed by some truly terrible lyrics), and reminders of the last time Weller could truly do no wrong in Into Tomorrow and The Changingman.