Paul Weller has certainly weathered a few storms in his time. Over a career spanning more than 30 years, and taking in his Jam and Style Council eras, Weller has had his fair share of peaks and troughs, and on the first of his five-night run at Dublin’s Olympia, he was definitely on peak form.
On a day when the nation woke up to the prospect of a Euro dig-out, we could do well to heed the words of the Modfather: Porcelain Godscould be an ode to our fallen financial idols; Pretty Green(a Jam classic) addresses the false allure of fast cash; and Shout To The Top– well, why didn’t we when we had the chance? Trading guitar licks with his long-time batman Steve Cradock, and backed by a band of like-minded ragged souls, Weller thundered through his back – and front – pages, projecting equal parts attitude and aptitude. At 52, he hasn’t gone soft around the edges – onstage he’s lean, keen and not afraid to vent some lyrical spleen. But if Weller is keen to get one message across, it is this: he’s still a vital musical force, and, judging from the reaction of fans both young and old, they hear him loud and clear.
The big revelation is just how great his current material is – tracks from his recent album Wake Up The Nationand its predecessor, 22 Dreams, are as inventive and vibrant as anything he’s done before.
He may be working from the template marked “classic rock, soul and psychedelica”, but it’s clear he was to the genre born. Moonshine, No Tears to Cry, All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You) Empty Ring, Invisibleand Pieces of A Dreamalready sound like vintage Weller, while Come On/Let’s Goand Fast Car, Slow Trafficprove he’s still got spit to go with the 1960s polish. Things get decidedly weird during Trees, which morphs from jazzy syncopation to trippy prog to Zep-like riffola and back again.
That’s Entertainmentand Start!complete a trio of Jam nuggets from the Sound Affectsalbum, now having its 30-year anniversary re-release, but for this critic, Art Schoolwas the real Jam topping, while Weller’s own Peacock Suitwas still pristine and preening as ever.