Alternative Version, Cover Versions, Get This!, Hard-to-find

The Great British Take-Off

Augustus Pablo is perhaps to the melodica what Les Paul was to the electric guitar. Until Augustus, reggae was all about the boom of the bass and the pistol crack of the snare. Pablo took his melodica and made it central to the dub reggae records he played on, fighting for ear space amongst the booms and the pistol cracks, the bringer of other-worldly melody in an already expansive soundscape. Dub reggae is proper long-form music. It’s widescreen, epic and simply massive to listen to. But you knew that already.


When Augustus Pablo teamed up with dub pioneer King Tubby, the results were dynamite. Their ‘King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown’ takes the easy flowing lovers’ rock of Jacob Miller‘s ‘Baby I Love You So‘…..

Jacob MillerBaby I Love You So

…..and sends it into outer space with a heady treatment of clatters, bangs, melodi-ka-ka-ka-echos and all manner of sonic enhancements…..

Augustus Pablo/King TubbyKing Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown

It‘s a very influential record. If you know your musical onions, you’ll spot traces of the production in all manner of records, from Massive Attack and St Etienne to New Order and Primal Scream. Would New Order’s ‘In A Lonely Place’ be the record it was if Martin Hannett hadn’t turned to his inner King Tubby for inspiration; Other-worldly? Yep. Claustrophobic and menacing? Yep. Liberal sprinklings of melodica? Yep, yep and yep. It’s dub, man! A rainy, grey, 80s Mancunian, British take on dub, but dub nonetheless.

New Order In A Lonely Place


Primal Scream currently have a very good (and very limited) 12″ on release featuring a dark ‘n dubby remixed take on their own 100% Or Nothing which stretches towards the 10 minute mark, cramming in as many booms, bleeps, skank-filled echoing guitars and, yes, melodica as possible. Somewhere between New Order’s In A Lonely Place and King Tubby’s dub-in-a-cave production, with half-inched vocal refrains from Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove, it’s very good. Echo Dek part II, even. Forever with his finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, Adam over at the ever-wonderful Bagging Area featured it last week.

In the early-mid 90s, Paul Weller was fond of adding tripped-out, elongated versions of the a-side or even his lesser-known album tracks to his singles. Remixed and re-tweaked almost exclusively by Brendan Lynch, they could usually be relied upon to be the best thing on the single. The Lynch Mob version of debut album track Kosmos is fantastic. Clearly influenced by King Tubby, Lee Perry and all those other progressive-thinking sonic architects, it’s waaaay out there. We have lift off!, to borrow the sample at the start.

Paul WellerKosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats version)

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it’s best listened to whilst you drive on the M8 on a hazy summer’s evening, just as the sun is setting and an aeroplane is taking off from Glasgow Airport, vapour trails shimmering in the mid-July heat, a stroke of luck that befell me once after dropping folk off at the airport.

le-mod-ica

Anyway, back to Baby I Love You So. Back in 1986, when alternative acts were trying to keep up with the rockist jangle of The Smiths or creating their own heavy, heavy monster sound of goth, 4AD act Colourbox released a very good version.

ColourboxBaby I Love You So

Replacing the melodica with electric guitars may have ‘indied’ it up a bit, but it loses none of its heavy dub or pulsing groove as a result. It’s a genuinely faithful version, replete with sonic wizardry and skanking galore. It’s also a tricky one to track down online, but here‘s the 7″ version, above, and the extended 12″ version below.

ColourboxBaby I Love You So (12″ version)


Alternative Version, Cover Versions, Get This!, Hard-to-find, Sampled

The Steal Council

There were a few Whistle Test repeats on BBC4 last week, one of which jumped out at me. Nick Lowe was leading Brinsley Schwarz through a great, soulful version of Surrender To The Rhythm, a track from their 1972 ‘Nervous On The Road’ LP. I’d never knowingly heard Brinsley Schwarz before and I was getting into the song’s groove when it hit me: That wee occasional keyboard riff! The phrasing in Nick Lowe’s delivery! I’ve heard this song before!

Placed in time somewhere post glam and pre punk, Brinsley Schawrz were part of the pub-rock movement, a gritty, back-to-basics scene where ‘real’ musicians were more concerned with the make-up of their songs than the make-up on their face. Keen and earnest, the scene nonetheless spawned Kilburn & The High Roads, who would morph into the Blockheads, the 101ers (who featured a pre-Joe Strummer John Mellor on guitar) and Dr Feelgood, a major influence on the young, impressionable Paul Weller (to this day, Weller still plays From The Floorboards Up without a plectrum, choosing instead to adopt the open-handed Wilko strum whenever he plays it live).

Weller, as it turns out, is more brazen about stealing things than you maybe realise. He has form – not only a strumming pattern from Wilko Johnson but also a career-long vocal delivery cribbed from Steve Marriott, a haircut half-inched from everyone from Worzel Gummidge to Muriel Gray and, more blatantly than any of this, the riff for Changingman that he heartilyappropriated from ELO’s 10538 Overture, something I’ve pointed out before. But long before the heady days of Brit Awards and Stanley Road etc, he was borrowing the mood, the feel and sometimes the chords and melody from more obscure tracks and passing them off as his own work.

style council

Time has been kinder to the much maligned Style Council than the dissenters might have thought back in the day (C’mon! This might cause a row down in Slough, but some of those tracks are ace – pretentious, aye! Ludicrous, aye! But ace – check out Weller’s recent tour for unarguable proof!) They were a deliberate move away from the Jam’s laddism; cricket jumpers, cycling gear, blokes with arms draped around one another, Weller at the back, pastel sweater hanging off his shoulders like a C&A catalogue model. All reference points lay somewhere between Dusty In Memphis, Curtis in Chicago and tongue firmly in cheek, and you either got it or you harked back to a time when Eton Rifles was the only thing that mattered.

Their debut single Speak Like A Child (in itself the title of a Herbie Hancock LP on Blue Note) is to this day a high point in The Style Council’s back catalogue, even if (as if turns out) you really have heard it before. With its breathy vocal delivery and airy Hammond lead, it isn’t entirely a million miles away from Brinsley’s Surrender To The Rhythm. Contrast and compare:

Brinsley SchwarzSurrender To The Rhythm

The Style CouncilSpeak Like A Child


Not content with pilfering blatantly from the past for his more soulful numbers, Weller went on the rampage through the more obscure parts of sunshine pop, alighting at Harper & Rowe’s 1967 bossanova boogaloo The Dweller and stealing the best bits for Have You Ever Had It Blue? This track was a highlight of the recent tour, the band kicking out the jams to play their blue notes under blue lighting, an inward-looking circle of nodding, noodling jazz-heads, but how many of the appreciative audience knew they were in effect listening to a carefully restructured cover version?

I’ve always loved The Style Council’s track, with its Gil Evans-arranged trumpet motif, the non-rock time signature and wordless Dee C Lee doo-be-doo backing vocals. As a 16 year-old, I thought Weller was a bit of a genius for having ‘written’ something so finger clickingly jazz. Great tune ‘n all that, Paul, but really, how did you manage to get away with it?

Harper & RoweThe Dweller

The Style CouncilHave You Ever Had It Blue?

*Bonus Track!

Here‘s The Style Council‘s With Everything To Lose, essentially the first version of the above track. No brass, different words, carefree flute etc etc

 

 

 

 

 

Live!

Paul Right Now, Baby It’s-a Paul Right Now

I can vividly remember sitting in a physics class in 2nd year of school. Mr Hill was explaining how it was possible for a radio audience listening in Paris to hear the first notes of a song in the Albert Hall, London, marginally before the audience in the back row of the venue. Something to do with sound waves and frequencies and the speed of sound in a vacuum, he explained. Actually, I’m just making this part up. I have no idea how it works, which maybe explains why I never elected to take physics beyond the basic foundation level. It’s mind-blowing and all that, but really, who gives a shit?

Well, maybe some of last night’s audience in Glasgow’s Hydro. Officially the 3rd busiest venue in the world (behind London’s O2 and New York’s Madison Square Garden) it’s a beast of a venue. Filled to capacity most nights of the week, it’s hosted all the big acts since opening a couple of years ago; Prince, U2, Taylor Swift, all the hot tickets come to Glasgow’s Hydro where, for the majority of the audience they appear like Lego versions of the real thing, far off in the distance, or, plooks ‘n all, on two massive video screens suspended either side of the stage.


Some of the seats in the Hydro are in a different postcode to the stage. Others may well be in a different time zone, such is their distance from the action. Any old mod tuning in from Paris last night may well have heard the first bars of Long Hot Summer (yes!) before those poor folk head to toe in Pretty Green way up there at the back. Which means those Parisians would’ve had the first inkling that Paul Weller last night was on fire, raging with emotion, attacking his guitar like the angry young man he once was and still defiantly kicking against the pricks.

CLANG! (That’s the sound of a name about to be dropped….)

Johnny Marr told me recently that he’d never deny his audience the chance to hear the choicest of cuts from his stellar Smiths’ catalogue. Why would you, he said, when he enjoyed playing them and the audience wanted to hear them. Yes, he’s proud of his most recent work, but he’s equally proud of the songs that got him to where he is today. Weller, it’s pleasing to note, has done likewise.


A lengthy and epic career-spanning 28 song set-list was played out to his usual audience; aulder and balder with a touch more spread around their middle-aged waists but still bellowing and punching the air in celebration like it was ’78 or ’82. Or even ’95. Jam songs (for such a long time the missing link in his set) followed Style Council songs (for such a long time the missing link etc etc) which followed early solo classics which were followed by tracks from his current patchy but it-makes-sense-in-the-live-arena Saturn’s Pattern LP. In fact, almost every facet of Weller’s career was represented tonight. I think the only phase not acknowledged was his Wild Wood LP, which is really saying something, bop-bop-shoobeedoo-wop. You could sit right now and write a brilliant 28 song set of the tracks he didn’t play, but that would be churlish. Weller’s set tonight was carefully thought-out and paced. I’d even go as far as saying that this was the best I’d ever seen him.


Kicking things off in an understated fashion with the snappy one-two of I’m Where I Should Be and Long Time from the latest album, he was quick to dip into the depths of his stupendous back catalogue. The Jam’s Man In The Corner Shop was followed by Ghosts from the same era. The wham-bam bossanova of The Style Council’s Have You Ever Had It Blue came immediately after My Ever Changing Moods, Weller’s foil Steve Cradock doing his best Curtis Mayfield impression on the wah-wah.

The sideman was on fine form tonight, let loose on expanded versions of Up In Suze’s Room and Porcelain Gods. Into Tomorrow was recast as a dubby, spacey sprawling epic, as expansive as the waistline on some of those old mods’ sharply-creased trousers. Elsewhere, we had a slightly-too-slow take on Start!, a sublime Above The Clouds which sounded like a long-lost cut from Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP, a spiky ‘n snarling Peacock Suit, a rare outing for lost single Starlite, a fantastic wigged-out version of The Jam’s In The Crowd and ooh, more than a handful of other crackers. It all finished off in the 2nd encore with a celebratory run through of Town Called Malice, Weller breaking into a smile as he bashed his tambourine into the microphone. He’s fast-becoming the English Neil Young; both have 3 distinct phases of their career, both can by awkward and bloody-minded, both are happy to give you epic sets filled with jam-heavy breaks (no pun intended) and they can both effortlessly switch from rocker to ballad to piano to electric guitar and back again. He’s alright, is our Paul.

via @BazzaMills on Twitter

The hardest-working man in the Hydro was undoubtedly Weller’s sound man. Those recent albums have been dipped in atmospherics and electro whooshes and the soundman sprinkled his magic dust over every track tonight, Weller’s voice echoing off and out into the ether, drums ricocheting around the room. This wasn’t just a bog-standard plug in and play gig, it was an all-encompassing, multi-sensory event. Sound and vision, to steal a phrase.

When Weller next returns to Glasgow, I’ll be surprised if it’s to the Hydro. He enjoys Glasgow, it’s always a fixture on his tour, but his gigs here have followed a pattern over the past decade or so. A gig at the Barrowlands was followed by an up-scaling to the Armadillo. He returned afterwards to the scuzzy setting of the Barrowlands. Next time round, he popped up in the rarely used for gigs Braehead Arena, before coming back once again to the Barrowlands and its familiar sprung dancefloor. He’s at his best in the smaller venue, where he can make real contact with the audience and create a true communion. I doubt if many artists can honestly say that about the Hydro, regardless of how popular a venue it has quietly become. “Nice gaff!” remarked Steve Cradock at one point. Yes, but it’s just that wee bit big, isn’t it?

Hard-to-find

We Have Lift Off!

I was driving past Glasgow Airport the other day, the runway loaded with planes all set to jet off to weather better than we were presently experiencing. I had a flashback to a few years previously, to a time when I’d dropped my in-laws off there when they were going on holiday. On the way home, just as I had left the airport and was about to join the M8, a strange and beautiful coincidence took place.

runway haze

The iPod, on shuffle, turned up a terrific Weller remix, just as a 737 raked itself into the sky directly above my head. Its skyscraping rumble, combined with the vapour around the engines and coupled with the low setting west of Scotland sun created a spectacular scene, all haze and shimmer and very reminiscent of the TV pictures I remember when Concorde took its first few flights.

Back then, those images were almost always accompanied by the mellow throb of Albatross, it’s faraway bluesy meander the perfect soundtrack to the aeroplane in flight. Here in the 2st century, what I was looking at was accompanied instead by a dubby, spacey, magnificent clatter, all bleeps and whooshes and laden with all manner of shiny studio effects.

The track in question was the Lynch Mob Bonus Beats remix of Kosmos and it was thrilling.  Call it corny or whatever, but it was a perfect moment.

Kosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats)

We have lift off.

Kosmos (SXDUB 2000)

Almost a beatless version to the busy Bonus Beats mix above.

Kosmos (Original album version)

This is a terrific version, the track that brought his first solo LP to a close. D. C. Lee is all over it, competing for space with some tasteful funk guitar.

Those Lynch Mob productions were a staple part of Paul Weller’s releases in the early-mid 90s. And unlike the artist himself, who these days is going for a look akin to Andy Warhol as played by Robert Carlyle, they’ve aged spectacularly well.

weller 2015

I’ve lived with his latest LP, Saturns Pattern (no apostrophe, tsk) since it’s release and to be honest I’m just not really feeling it. To these ears it’s a wee bit flat and one dimensional, trying too hard to be the equal of the last few LPs and spoiled by the odd mockney vocal and what ‘ave ya. In the cold light of day, it’s nowhere near as good as the kaleidoscopic sonic palettes evident on the preceding triptyche.

It has its moments – the angry man squall of White Skies, in itself an Asda priced sanitisation of all his recent best bits, Whole Lotta Love bass lines ‘n all, the chicken scratch Meters-lite Pick It Up and the fuzzy, meandering Phoenix, but while it’s not a bad LP, it’s not one of Weller’s finest. I’m sure, a year or so down the line when he looks back in retrospect, he’ll tell you the same himself.

Console yourself instead with another Lynch Mob-produced spacey remix from 1984.

Eye Of The Storm, b-side of the Peacock Suit single.

brendan lynchBrendan Lynch

 

Get This!, Hard-to-find

It’s Shop, Not Store. Right?

Paul Weller Record Store Day 2014 - Brand New Toy

Paul Weller‘s dropped the sturm und drang sonic assault of his more recent work and is clearly back listening to his Kinks EPs again. Brand New Toy, his super-limited 7″ (750 copies) for this years Record Shop Day (I refuse to say ‘Store‘, OK?) is a right royal mockney knees-up around the old joanna, complete with a name-check for ‘Raymond’, descending ‘aaah-ing’ and ‘ooo-ing’ backing vocals and a very brief whistling section. Chas and Ray Davies, if you will. The solo, which comes on the back of a lovely little Style Council major 7th chord is short, sharp, ‘clean’ and full of  backwards-ish sounding bends, somehow conjuring up that least-likely of Weller influences, the clog-wearing Brian May. Brand New Toy is a somewhat bizarre record but I like it immensely.

 

paul-weller-flameout-virgin

Compare that to last year’s RSD offering, Flame-Out.

A clanging, droning, Eastern-tinged post punk racket of a record, it”s a cracker. Listening to it, you can practically see the veins bulging on Weller’s neck as he spits/sings it with total conviction. He means it, maaan. Sonically it’s the sound of Weller in the 21st century, all heavily effected guitars played by a band as tight and sharply creased as the lead singer’s trousers. The odd spoken word breakdown brings to mind Scary Monsters-era Bowie, though I’m sure Weller wouldn’t thank me for saying that. I think it’s right up there with his best work of the past few years, and the fact that PW chose to leave Flame-Out off any of his albums of the past couple of years only adds to the essentiality of this record.

I see that there’s a Modern Classics Vol. 2 in the offing. Initially I thought what?!? He can’t be due another greatest hits set. Then I saw the tracklisting – both tracks above feature, incidentally – and it clicked… Paul Weller really has been responsible for some of the best music of the past couple of decades. But you knew that already.

weller bellySee me walkin’ around, I’m the blob about town that you’ve heard of

And another thing….

I like the idea of Record Shop Day. Who doesn’t? Anything that highlights the cultural value of record shops must be applauded.  But I hate Record Shop Day. Those two records above were on eBay even before RSD 13 and 14, with bids upwards of £50 being encouraged. I mean, come on! I like the idea that your favourite bands make one-off special releases specifically for the event, but I hate that they are so limited and scarce that the only apparent way to secure a copy is to start queuing round about the January sales. But that’s another argument for another day.

Slight Update 22.4.14

Here’s Paul Weller’s take on Record Shop/Store Day…

This is a message to all the fans who couldn’t get the new vinyl single on Record Store Day and/or paid a lot of money for a copy on eBay.

I agree with all of you who have sent messages expressing your anger and disappointment at the exploitation of these “limited editions” by touts.

Apart from making the record, the rest has very little to do with me but I am disheartened by the whole thing and unfortunately I won’t be taking part in Record Store Day again.

It’s such a shame because as you know I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting and goes against the whole philosophy of RSD.

There were copies of my single on eBay the day before Record Store Day and I’ve heard stories of people queuing outside their local record shop only to be told there were none left at opening time!

It only takes a few to spoil a wonderful concept for everyone else. Shame on those touts.

Don’t support their trade and don’t let them use Record Store Day to ruin the very thing it’s designed to support.

Onwards. PW

 

Cover Versions, demo, Stinky

Weller Weller Weller oops

elo 72

10538 Overture was the debut single by the Electric Light Orchestra. It was written by Jeff Lynne and produced by Roy Wood when he was still in The Move, pretentiously given the ‘Overture‘ title and prompted the split of the band. Released in 1972, it was the love child of I Am The Walrus and The Who’s more bombastic moments; a Heinz 57 variety pack of swooshing synths, see-sawing cellos, minor key breakdowns, ELO’s trademark multi-tracked vocals….and a terrifically cod-psychedelic, eastern-tinged descending guitar riff.

10538 Overture

10538 Overture would eventually appear on ELO’s self -titled debut LP, with it’s big, ambitious sound a portent of things to come. In America, the same album was released as ‘No Answer‘, after the man from the US record company phoned the band to get the name of the LP. No one picked up, the under-assistant west coast promo man wrote ‘no answer‘ on his paper, left his desk, and someone picked up his note and ran off to the printers where the sleeve was being assembled. True story, that.

Perhaps drawn in by the backwards Beatlish bits and the windmilling Townshend chords and Moonisms on the drums as 10538 Overture drags itself to a bloated end, Paul Weller‘s magpie-like antennae pricked up. “That descending guitar riff,” he thought. “I’m having that.”…..

Weller demo:

weller 95A shame-faced Paul hides his head

Welding it on to a mid-life crisis of a lyric, Weller gave birth to The Changingman, lead single from the epoch-defining Stanley Road LP. Named after a picture his son had drawn – “Who’s that?” “It’s the changingman, daddy,” the single reached number 7 in the charts, at the time a career best for the solo Paul.

This is where it gets a wee bit muddled. On the LP, the track is credited solely to Weller, but if you consult that last bastion of credibility Wikipedia, you’ll see that Weller shares the writing credits with 3 others – Brendan Lynch, his producer of choice at the time who added the ambient textures and wonky noises (his remixes from this time are terrific) that lift the track above bog standard r’nb fare, a certain R. Wood who we now know all about, and, most interestingly of all, forgotten cult hero and Syd Barrett for the Brit-Pop genearation, Lee Mavers.

The Changingman LP/Single version:

Quite what Mavers’ involvement in the writing of the song was is unclear (if any), although around that time he was in a bit of a sorry state through drugs. It’s been suggested that Paul Weller took one of Lee’s unreleased tunes and built Changingman on top of it. Some of the lyrics (‘the more I see the more I know, the more I know the less I understand‘) are kinda La’s-ish as well. Weller, on Go! Discs, as was Mavers at the time (or was he still, in 1995?), also had Lee open a few shows for him. Maybe he was just trying to help him out, a support slot here, a writing credit there,  but as you’ll know already, Mavers is pretty comfortably well-off thanks to the regular royalties he receives for There She Goes (between £5000-£10000 a month, depending on where you read). Maybe Bo Diddley nut Lee contributed the percussive backbeat that gives the track it’s mid 60s swagger towards the end. Who knows? I need to investigate further…

The Changingman Radio1 Evening Session 8th May, 1995 (Exactly one week before the album release);

rod 90sRod Weller

Around the same time as Weller was releasing Stanley Road, an ill-advised Rod Stewart was assembling a catalogue of contemporary tracks of the day that would make up a covers LP. When I first heard about this album, I immediately thought of it as similar in spirit to Bowie’s Pin Ups LP. Primal Scream’s Rocks. Cigarettes And Alcohol. Skunk Anansie’s Weak. All would be filtered through the Rod voice and into the Mondeos and family saloons of 40-something Britain. There was even space for a (terrific) track by Scottish underachievers Superstar that would make writer Joe McAlinden very wealthy.  At the sessions, Rod tackled The Changingman with all the gusto of a prime time Faces, although the finished version comes across as a highly polished piece of session musician rawk and nothing like the raggedy arsed Faces it could’ve been. Consequently, it never made the final cut.

The Changingman Rod Stewart version;

Never has a singer betrayed his talent quite like Rod.

But that’s for another day.

Live!

Feelgood Factor

Paul Weller at the Barrowlands on Monday night was terrific. The opening night of his ‘One Night Only‘ tour, this was Weller’s way of gathering up the best bits of his back catalogue and playing them with a renewed effervescence and vigour that could shame a band with a combined age less than half his 55 or so years.

paul weller barrasPaul Wellblurred

Not that we knew it at the start. A Paul Weller gig without an album to promote always puts the needle into the red on the old apprehensionometer – this might’ve meant a set of brand new material to endure, with a couple of greatest hits flung in at select moments to appease a restless crowd. Not a bad night out maybe, but not really what you want on a Monday night. From the off, though, when a free from fanfare and flashing lights Weller strolled on at the unfashionably early time of 8.30pm, all perma-tan and tight, tight trousers, and fired into Sunflower, it was clear he was here to entertain. Earlier on, the DJ had played a not entirely inspired selection of 60s and 70s 45s. You won’t need me to list them for you. Stuck somewhere in the middle was Bowie’s Golden Years – a wee clue to how the night would proceed. Not for PW a cosy pipe ‘n slippers run through of his earlier past triumphs, this was going to be a back catalogue cherry pick through his own golden years, played for us like the Angry Young Man from Woking he once was.

The set was given a modernist (no pun intended) twist thanks to the liberal sprinklings of sonic stereo swooshes and panning vocal effects that were in equal parts druggy and dubby, but especially due to the use of a piercing Telecaster for half the songs. This gave the band an angular, angry, post-punk sound; aggressive yet arty, taut yet trippy.

Third song in was From The Floorboards Up, and even more so than the recorded version, it was total Wilko Johnson. From the opening slashed chords onwards, Weller channeled his inner Dr Feelgood. Not many would’ve noticed, but for this track PW ditched the plectrum (just like Wilko!) strummed with open hand (just like Wilko!) and perfected that thousand yard stare (just like Wilko!) Between a couple of verses he even had the nerve to do that spasmic, wired-to-the-mains electrified stagger across the stage – aye, just like Wilko! Tonight Matthew, for the next three minutes, I’m going to be Wilko Johnson. And he was. Never before have I seen such an obvious ‘we’re not worthy’ episode of hero worship. Did anyone else spot it?

photo(1)

The set thereon in was inspired. The Style Council’s My Ever Changing Moods was a surprise early addition, fuelling an unspoken frenzy amongst 1800 souls that he might dare to play a couple of (whisper it) Jam songs. He did. A punchy, punky Start! received almost the biggest cheer of the night, and even the inability of Weller to hit the high notes of his youth couldn’t dampen things. I don’t know what Weller thinks of this – he’s clearly comfortable playing these old songs that mean so much to so many, but his own, more recent back catalogue is sounding sensational in its current form – Dragonfly, Andromeda, Sea Spray, Wake Up The Nation, Come On Let’s Go, 7&3 Is The Striker’s Name. They are equally as deserving of that same roof-raising cheer – a roof-raising cheer that reached delirious levels of excitement when the group walked out for the second encore and the bass player thudded into the opening Motownisms of A Town Called Malice. Weller, on joint tambourine and Telecaster duties looked like the happiest man on the planet. And given that 1800 people had just spontaneously combusted in total delight, that’s really saying something.

weller set 7.10.13

Disappointments? None really. The above set list shows He’s The Keeper and Out Of The Sinking, neither of which he played, for whatever reason. I did think, early on, when it was clear he was here to entertain, that we might get Into Tomorrow. But no. And it’s possible to create your own brilliant set from the obvious tracks he didn’t play – Brushed would’ve sounded great in this set for example (as would Out Of The Sinking for that matter), and I’d have liked to hear Starlite, the forgotten single released between the last two LPs, but really, you can’t complain. A just-short-of two hours set with tracks from all eras fizzing off the stage like welders’ sparks is a good night out, is it not?

This is, I’m certain, the most fired-up and relevant Weller I’ve ever seen in concert. If you have a ticket for one of the shows, you’re going to really enjoy it. If you don’t have one, do everything you can to get one.

My ears are still ringing, by the way…..