REVIEW: Paul Weller, York Barbican, April 5

Photos and review by Dave Lawrence

PAUL Weller returned to York on Tuesday evening for a sold-out concert at the Barbican, his first show in town since his 2018 visit to the venue.

Those in attendance expected a great show and they certainly got it with Weller delivering a career encompassing set of songs including material from his days with The Jam and The Style Council as well as plenty from his distinguished solo career.

After an opening set of indie-pop by Melbourne-based band The Stroppies, the 63-year-old Weller took to the stage with a crack band that comprised his long-time collaborator Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene on guitar, Tom Heel on keyboards, a pair of drummers in Steve Pilgrim and Ben Gordelier (both sporting blue and yellow skins on their bass drums in support of Ukraine) and bassist Andy Crofts.

Taking the stage on the dot of 8.30 - “We have a lot to get through," Weller later told us – he opened the set with White Sky and Long Time from the Saturns Pattern album and it was immediately evident that Weller and band were up for it. It was a ferocious start to the evening, the band relishing being back on stage after the enforced break of the last couple of years. The passion never let up throughout the whole two-hour long show.

York Press: Paul Weller and his band at York Barbican last night. Photo by Dave LawrencePaul Weller and his band at York Barbican last night. Photo by Dave Lawrence

Weller thanked the audience for their patience over the rearranged shows and for holding on to their tickets, which originally went on sale back in 2020.

The first Style Council song of the evening was Headstart for Happiness and it’s clear those years still mean a lot to Weller and audience alike. Other tunes from that era included Have You Ever Had It Blue and It’s A Very Deep Sea.

As usual with The Jam material, it was rationed – we got just a handful of numbers – including Start! and That’s Entertainment. Most of the audience would love more of course, but Weller doesn’t seem one to overly dwell too much on those early days, and with a lengthy solo catalogue like his it’s kind of understandable.

Classic songs came thick and fast. For the gorgeous version of Stanley Road he moved to piano, something he did on and off throughout the evening. Fat Pop and Woo Sé Mama in particular went down well with the audience.

Above The Clouds, Into Tomorrow, Brushed, and Peacock Suit were outstanding, and sandwiched in between was the first Jam number of the evening, Start! as well as a punchy version of the Style Council’s Shout to The Top.

York Press: Paul Weller pleased crowds at York Barbican last night. Photo by Dave LawrencePaul Weller pleased crowds at York Barbican last night. Photo by Dave Lawrence

The encore began with Weller at the piano for Broken Stones and You Do Something to Me before picking up his acoustic guitar and hitting the instantly recognisable opening chords of That’s Entertainment.

This was followed by a beautiful rendition of Wild Wood.

The hair may have turned silver but the songs and his voice remain golden. It was evident throughout that Weller retained the uncompromising passion and spirit that were always his trademarks. Long may the Modfather reign.

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