10:23am Monday 29th November 2010
By Nick Churchill
THERE are plenty of great performers and a fair few can still cut the mustard deep into middle age, but how many are making music every bit as vital and exciting – perhaps even more so – as they did as teenagers?
Paul Weller is one such. He’s been up and down more times than a window cleaner’s chamois – sometimes hitting a sweet spot, other times missing by a mile, but always reaching just beyond his grasp.
He’s very definitely on an up at the moment. His last two albums, the sprawling 22 Dreams and this year’s pared-down Wake Up the Nation, have found him exercising his passion for a sometimes dizzying range of music.
Sunday night’s set drew on every stage of his career, including Art School from The Jam’s 1977 debut album, The Style Council’s Shout to the Top, an edgy trip hop reading of Wild Wood and a brand new song, That Dangerous Age, which channels The Who’s I Can’t Explain.
But the bulk of the two-hour show comes from his most recent output and, helped by a crisp sound mix, finds room for a Doors-ian excursion on Pieces of a Dream, audacious five-part song suite Trees, the rootsy Sea Spray, the dense psychedelia of 7&3 Is the Striker’s Name and Aim High’s invocation of the spirit of Curtis Mayfield.
Such musical plurality is the result of Weller’s open-hearted pursuit of modernist principles and is vindicated as the initially frosty audience warms to Jam gems like Strange Town, Start! and Pretty Green, but reserves equal enthusiasm for more recent hits No Tears To Cry and Come On/Let’s Go.
A barnstorming Town Called Malice sends us out into the cold night, but get this – what comes next could be even more exciting!