Maybe it was down to the band not having played much this year, maybe it was just a sticky night and the sound was doing battle with the Guildhall’s challenging acoustics, but we were some way south of prime Weller.
He did his bit though, leading from the front, jabbing fingers, nodding his head, pulling shapes, even windmilling his guitar a couple of times, yet not even such exertions could kick the band into life and the first half of this Hard Rock Calling warm-up was decidedly sluggish. Straight out of the blocks, Sunflower dragged a half beat behind where it wanted to be and by the time they got to Friday Street, a dozen or so songs in, it sounded like it was stuck in Thursday. Sea Spray and the rarely performed Going Places did little to advance the cause.
A loose reading of My Ever Changing Moods hinted it could be different, as did a swinging take on The Attic before 7×3 Is the Striker’s Name seemed to galvanise the band paving the way for That’s Entertainment to really pull it all together, followed by a spiky Start! Whirlpool’s End kicked like a mule and The Changing Man brought the set to what felt like an early end.
A jazzy meander through Out of the Sinking set the tone for a muted encore that ended with Sonic Kicks’ closer Be Happy Children followed by a lengthy wait for a celebratory Town Called Malice, then home.
Although this didn’t quite match what he’s capable of, at 55 Paul Weller is making some of the most vital music of his career and remains a genuinely awesome live proposition when he hits his stride. He will be back.
Sunflower, Wake Up the Nation, Flame Out!, From the Floorboards Up, Fast Car/Slow Traffic, Sea Spray, My Ever Changing Moods, Kling I Klang, The Attic, Going Places, Friday Street, Porcelain Gods, When Your Garden’s Overgrown, Above the Clouds, Dragonfly, 7&3 IS the Striker’s Name, Peacock Suit, That’s Entertainment, Start!, Whirlpool’s End, The Changing Man.
Encore: Out of the Sinking, That Dangerous Age, Be Happy Children. Encore: Town Called Malice