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Gig review: Paul Weller @ Guild Hall, Preston
THE angry young man of the Jam may have moved into middle age but the drive and determination to do his own thing remain undiminished.
The devotees turned up in their droves with their Steve Marriott haircuts and Fred Perrys to worship at the feet of the Modfather.
And what they got was an eclectic setlist which demonstrated what Weller himself once described as his “ever changing moods”.
So from the Jam days we got Strange Town and Start, an acknowledgement to the Style Council era with Shout to the Top (rapturously received) plus a selection of songs from his solo career.
The Guild Hall isn’t the greatest venue for a Weller gig.
The stage is too low meaning those on the floor can just about see the top of that famous haircut and the lighting was in danger of causing retinal damage.
Add to this a muddy sound and lack of intimacy and it wasn’t the show it could have been.
The set demonstrates the contradictions in Paul Weller.
There is a heart of a romantic poet, capable of beautiful songs such as Invisible and yet there are also signs that the angry young man can still be a grumpy middle aged one, as shown by a new song Waking the Nation which hits out at TV talent shows.
Weller fans appear to belong to different eras and although devoted they won’t just allow their idol to entertain, they want to hear their own particular favourites.
An unusual encore with three acoustic songs – Black River, Why Walk When You Can Run and Wild Wood – had some of the more ‘refreshed’ members of the audience voicing their disapproval and shouting for Weller to rock it up.
As you’d expect he ignored them, sat behind a piano and did a cover version of How Sweet It Is which turned the song from glorious, light celebration to a dark confessional.
But that’s Weller for you.