Gig review: Paul Weller at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
If True Meanings, last year’s album of acoustic ballads, hinted that one of Britain’s finest songwriters was mellowing as he turned 60, Paul Weller’s attitude towards his large back catalogue appears to have thawed too.
Songs he’d shunned from his setlists for decades are finally making a reappearance, and his fourth concert in recent years in the spectacular surrounds of Dalby Forest is peppered with hits he wrote for The Jam and The Style Council as well as material spanning his 27 years as a solo artist.
There’s even some gentle ribbing of his long-time lieutenant Steve Cradock before Weller leaves the guitarist to introduce one of his own “favourite” songs, Hung Up.
The two-hour set begins promisingly with I’m Where I Should Be, from Saturns Pattern, before swiftly switching into crowd-pleasing mode with one of The Style Council’s best tracks, My Ever Changing Moods. Man in the Corner Shop, which he originally penned for The Jam, is greeted with a roar, but Weller ensures the mood doesn’t settle into cosy nostalgia by following it with the spiky From The Floorboards Up.
An extended Wild Wood segues into the hugely popular That’s Entertainment, then the singer decides to mark the 22nd anniversary of Heavy Soul with Mermaids and Brushed. Strange Museum harks back to the start of his solo career while for Can You Heal Us (Holy Man) Weller and his five-piece band are joined by a horn section from support act The Stone Foundation.
The energetic Woo Se Mama, from 2017’s excellent A Kind Revolution, ends with massed handclapping then Weller switches to the piano for You Do Something To Me.
The large crowd sing and dance along to Have You Ever Had It Blue and Shout To the Top and up on their feet again for Into Tomorrow and a rousing Peacock Suit, which is given added punch by The Stone Foundation’s horns.
A generous encore includes a zesty Saturns Pattern and well-received Broken Stones, but it was the revival of four Jam-era songs – Start!, Precious, a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up and the magnificent A Town Called Malice – that brought a lump to the throat.
If a widely wished-for Jam reunion might never come to pass, Weller’s newfound willingness to accommodate his past is, in itself, a hugely welcome thing.