Paul Weller at The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham on June 24th 2014
It’s generally not easy to tell what kind of mood Paul Weller is going to be in of a night onstage. A couple of hints point to a sunnier disposition on this venture, though, with ‘Love’ emblazoned across the bass drum skins of both drumkits that sit on the platform at the rear of the stage in the grassy grounds of The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.
And why shouldn’t Weller ride the crest of the goodtime wave? His most recent album ‘Sonik Kicks’ hit the number one spot in the UK album charts on its release, and tonight’s set sees the one-time Jam and Style Council frontman perform a miscellany of his solo output. There’s a nod to both bands over the course of the evening, judicial choices all, but this is very much a statement that Weller’s ancient history is just that.
Singer-songwriter Tom Odell is the odd choice of opener for Weller. There aren’t too many bodies populating the venue, and even less standing up, as Odell and his band begin the early evening entertainment. Odell takes centre stage, seated at his piano side-on flanked by guitar and bass, with a drummer to his right and the crowd to his left. His is a theatrical style of playing, harking to Elton John or Billy Joel’s more dramatic moments.
The band seem to exist more to give his sound a contemporary punch than anything else, and it’s only later in the set that they seem to gel as a unit, with Odell and his guitarist sparring with the chime of piano chords and some blues riffing. His cohorts down guitars for Change Your Mind and all harmonise, but the guitarist gets to etch out one more solo on Odell’s final, that-bit-more-soulful number, giving it a feel not unlike tonight’s headliner’s ‘90s material.
Weller cuts a casual figure as the six-piece band appear, decked in a T-shirt in contrast to Andy Lewis on bass and long-serving guitarist Steve Craddock at either side of him, both suited and booted. Straight off the bat it’s a serving of soul with Sunflower, and it’s that soul and R&B lineage that Weller has absorbed over a forty year career that permeates the entire selection. The five-way harmonies and percussive additions to Sea Spray rattle around the venue nicely as dusk falls, and similarly the high-pitched doo-wop backing vocals of That Dangerous Age.
As he plays My Ever Changing Moods – the only outing for The Style Council tonight – Weller seems to inhabit the material more than ever, his voice and filled-out band giving the song a more refined air. He cheerfully applauds Craddock’s playing on Foot Of The Mountain, then the mood seems to take a turn. The Attic perhaps doesn’t receive the welcome Weller expects, with him surmising that ‘Sonik Kicks’ is “obviously not that popular in Ireland”.
Maybe he’s just antsy for a smoke, and the quick fag break at the drum riser as the drummer doles out a slow, tribal rhythm seems to have done the trick. Roger the roadie appears to take Weller’s guitar as he sits at the organ for Dragonfly. “He’s going to play a couple of Irish folk songs” Weller tells us, but Roger is not to be enticed and the soul keeps rolling to the funkier stylings of Peacock Suit and The Jam’s Start!
“We’ve still got a long way to go yet” Weller says as the band reappear for the first encore, and the pace slows with Out Of The Sinking. There’s another drum solo, another smoke break – we see a pattern – and a wolf whistle from Weller for his sticksman’s efforts. The latter then helps Weller on lead vocals for Be Happy Children, closing the loungiest section of tonight’s set.
They’re gone again, only to return with Changing Man, a harder-edged version than that on record and the better for it. Whirlpool’s End spirals out with some wah-wah wig-outs from Craddock, and they’re off into the wings once again. Any “ah here” mutterings and tearing-the-arse-out-of-it accusations at encore number three are assuaged and dispelled instantly by the final strut of The Jam’s Town Called Malice, a celebratory cut with Weller punching a tambourine. Despite the odd lag in momentum in the mid-section, it’s a largely solid set from Weller, now ladling freely from the bucketful of soul he seems to keep close by these days, energising that earlier solo material and informing the new.
Paul Weller Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost