The enduring Paul Weller delivers a dynamic 30 plus set at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
“If you don’t know these songs it’s your own problem, in a way, as you haven’t bought the records.”
As in so much of what Paul Weller has said, sung, written and played for forty-odd years, he was spot on. Neither hectoring nor chiding; stating fact. The truth spoken with integrity and authority. That’s consistent entertainment.
Like Bob Dylan or Mark E Smith, rest his soul, Weller looks forwards. Driven not ambitious, following his muse. You haven’t heard his more recent songs? Try One Tear, a dub-dance duet with Boy George over what could be a Jah Wobble bassline. Admire the restless artist, the die-if-I-stop troubadour in the man. Smile at She Moves With the Fayre, a title alluding to a folk song set to Get Up by James Brown.
Like a suburban Sinatra, Weller has earned the reputation and respect that allows geezers of a certain age to gush like geysers. The sort of icon a bloke can safely eulogise about down the pub to a crowd of lads. Or in the concrete and regal purple of the Sydney Opera House for that matter.
If the band’s sound was great, and despite a room designed for flutes and glockenspiels not Fenders and Gibsons it was resolutely an expert mix that improved as the night wore on, the atmosphere was even better. It’s difficult to overstate, if not explain, the affection, the reverence in which the man is held. Some dad-dancing did inevitably result, even during the slow numbers.
Talking of which; if there’s ever been greater renditions of Wild Wood, That’s Entertainment and English Rose, I’d like to hear them. Weller’s voice during the latter in particular was shattering; rich, powerful and controlled.
But this was not a solo gig; not by a very cool haircut.
Land Rovers: Dependable, robust and loyal.
Also from Solihull, ironically, is guitarist Cradock, with Paul since 1992. His ongoing Weller gig is down to neither compassion nor compromise. His tone, timing and feel are as consistent as a Series 1. The iconic solo from You Do Something To Me was delivered like your favourite neck massage, bathed in a cool stream in Summer, in Italy, by mountain sylphs.
The sounds from Andy Croft on bass were sublime. The classic tone he coaxed from his Hofner through Fender rig, especially when he used a pick, was spot on. Steve Pilgrim, on drums, was his equal and together they were faultless.
When finally it came, the anthem the crowd craved, a hundred love letters dried in the relentless march of time were wet with bittersweet tears once more. And Paul Weller was clutched to hearts just like he had been 40 years ago on the sticky carpets of the Marquee. Vespas swapped for Ubers, but love still burning in red white and blue.