Review: Paul Weller, Dalby Forest, Forest Live, Friday, June 28

WILD Woodsman Paul Weller must love Dalby Forest.

This was his fourth Forest Live fundraiser for the Forestry Commission, or Forestry England as it had re-branded itself a la Team England mode, after performances in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

Sticking to a five-year, rather than seven-year, itch, the Woking workaholic wended his way north once more. While Stormzy hit Glasto, grey skies greeted Weller, who countered the lack of sun with messages of Love daubed across the two drum kits, resplendent in psychedelic red and yellow.

York Press:

BACK AT DALBY: Paul Weller on his return to the North Yorkshire woodland

"I'm Where I Should Be," he sang as his opening number, and Dalby's Weller devotees would no doubt agree, happy to have him back again, even if his woodland show did not sell out this time.

The Style Council's My Ever Changing Moods was an early crowd pleaser from the ever-changing Modfather, and those with a [picnic] craving for Jam were sweetened soon after by Man In The Corner Shop from 1980's Sound Affects. "For God created all men equal, they know," we shouted back, just like we did in our younger yesterdays.

And there he was, at 61, still slim, still snappily dressed in zipped jacket and jeans, and still with cool hair, now more akin to Iggy Pop's, sneaking in a quick fag beside his piano, and still reminding us that no, not all men are equal, although some might say he does not equal the Weller of The Jam's days.

York Press:

"Love and peace," said Paul Weller, capturing the woodland vibe at Dalby Forest

That's an old argument as boring as Brexit squabbling. Weller respects his past as well as savouring the present, sharing a stage with two drummers, fellow retro guitarist Steve Cradock, bass, keyboards and, on occasion, The Stone Foundation horn section (recalling The Jam's latterday gigs).

This Yorkshire night was packed with five Jam songs, topped by That's Entertainment; three Style Council oldies (two in a row mid-set with Have You Ever Had It Blue and Shout To The Top); the ever-present Curtis Mayfield cover among the encores, and 19 solo Weller works. And no, not all work as well as others, especially the encores' opening trio of Saturns Pattern, Phoenix and Broken Stones, but Wild Wood, You Do Something To Me, Friday Street and Peacock Suit were mighty fine, even if The Changingman went AWOL, an absence you might wish to have changed.

"Love and peace," said Weller, who resisted any political outburst in this divided land, before he finished Jam side up with Start!, Precious, Curtis's Move On Up and Town Called Malice. "I could go on for hours and I probably will, but I'd sooner put some joy back," he sang at the close, and for that, Paul, many thanks.

Charles Hutchinson