BY GAVIN MARTIN ON JUN 11, 10 12:01
From: The Mirror
In his dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall, Paul Weller is doling out kisses and drinks. He has just completed a five-night run at the prestigious venue, finishing with the most remarkable show I've seen in more than 30 years of Weller watching.
"It's about pacing yourself," the 52-year-old grins, as he cuddles up to his new girlfriend Hannah Andrews. "Having said that, I didn't pace myself too well last night. I got drunk and was a little the worse for wear this morning."
Earlier, the Woking wonder had been in ebullient, passionate form. The performance connected with every era of his career as favourites from The Jam and The Style Council sat seamlessly alongside adventurous, incendiary offerings such as new
single, Find The Torch, Burn The Plans.
"Lyrically, it's about us as British people reclaiming our stake in the nation," Paul explains. "We aren't represented by the Queen or some politician. We made this country, we built it with our own sweat and blood, and we own it."
Unimpressed with the new government - "they are all the same, they all went to the same public schools and universities" - Weller fiercely clings to his working class roots. This despite being a millionaire rock star whose children have been privately educated. Isn't that a contradiction?
"No, that's my prerogative," he responds. "It doesn't change where I come from - my principles will always remain the same. Any money I've made, I've earned, and no matter how much I've earned it will never make me middle class. My roots will always
be my roots. School did nothing for me. The Beatles were my teachers when I was 16. My old man took me to Liverpool and I stood outside Macca's house in Forthlin Road and Lennon's house Mendips. It was like me going to Mecca.
"They were disciples, conduits to important information that was passed on to people, as far as I'm concerned."
During the making of his latest album Wake Up The Nation, his "old man" - father, manager and career-long partner John Weller - died after a four-year illness. So how did the period of living grief, watching John gradually "fall apart" affect him?
"I'm the son of my father," Paul answers. "I know he wouldn't want me wallowing in tears and grief, so I dealt with it like that. You have to keep on keeping on.
"We were lucky to have that relationship. He was my buddy, my best friend, a great dad and a great manager. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't fought my corner. I tried to think of all the positive things we had in our lifetime, the fun we had being mates, drinking every bar dry on the road."
And so Weller continues, a force of nature who is no longer seen as a staid traditionalist. His latest album Wake Up The Nation and its predecessor 22 Dreams have marked him out as an activist adventurer - ever keen to seek out like-minded rebel rousers.
"I think Britain has got talent but you won't find it on that TV show," he scowls. "Simon Cowell is a fool. Personally I'm still waiting for the 17-year-olds to get away from their computers, smash the f*** out of this country and have a proper music revolution.
"But I'm optimistic. Sometimes something very good can come out of mediocre times."