As far as Monday nights go, heading to the Barrowland to watch Paul Weller isn’t too bad at all. The opening night of his UK tour kicked off in Glasgow with close friend Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene) on joint six-string duties and for weeks in advance social media sites were buzzing with excitement for those going to see the Modfather himself. And it’s not hard to imagine why.
Since 1972 Paul Weller has been a constant evolution of himself from The Jam, through to The Style Council and in to his current incarnation as, well, Paul Weller; it’s little wonder he is held in such a high regard – 11 studio albums and 46 singles just as a solo artist gives you an insight into what he does and how well he does it.
On the way up to the venue there was a broad-range of fans out to see him; a huge amount of father and son duo’s shuffled through the rain ahead of us, young and old, parka’s, mod-haircuts, immaculate suits and silk neck scarves paved the street of the Gallowgate for the first Weller gig in almost 4 years – tonight was going to be pretty special.
As the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted the band burst into opening track ‘Sunflower’ and proceeded uninterrupted through ‘Wake Up The Nation’, ‘From The Floorboards Up’ and ‘Push It Along’. What a start. Tonight wasn’t one for chatting away to the crowd, no time with an approximate set time of 2 hours. Cheers erupted when he announced how much he enjoys playing the Barrowland but much preferred it when you were allowed to smoke!
The band kicked off ‘Sea Spray’ to a union of clapping hands; you could see the band were having a great time, particularly Cradock who struck many a rock-star pose. The Style Council’s ‘My Ever Changing Moods’ was next up with the band producing a spectacular rendition to rapturous applause.
‘Bull Rush’ and ‘Come On, Let’s Go’ led the gig along at the impressive pace the earlier songs started it at. The Attic from most recent album Sonic Kicks went down well, sounding even better live that it does on the album. ‘Going Places’ gave way to a very cool lighting effect in the venue which matched the chilled-out vibe of the song.
Fan favourite ‘Wild Wood’ created the first big sing-along of the night. There were pockets of the crowd singing along to certain parts of certain songs before this but this was a 1,900 sing back at Weller and co. Keeping with the chilled-out vibe ‘Friday Street’ and ‘Porcelain Gods’ sounded incredible; I couldn’t believe how much Weller had gotten through by this point.
Back to the most recent album, ‘That Dangerous Age’ brought the tempo back up, quickly followed by ‘Above The Clouds’ and ‘Dragonfly’. By this point Steve Cradock’s suit was like the majority of the crowd – soaked in sweat. Weller was as cool as the proverbial. ‘7&3 Is The Strikers Name’ got a huge cheer but not as big as following track ‘Peacock Suit’ got – on the receiving end of another Barrowland sing-along.
The Jam’s ‘Start!’ got the crowd bobbing up and down even more and the energy levels had risen again just in time for ‘The Changingman’. You can imagine the crowd’s reaction! Yet another flawless band performance, it sounded superb. A special mention to the guitar tech who tried to adjust Weller’s pedal toward the end of the song and was literally palmed offstage in the same direction he entered it accompanied by a stony stare. This set the band up for their first exit of the night with Weller putting it simply: “Cheers. We’re off”. Naturally, no-one moved an inch.
Coming back out with an encore of ‘Andromeda’, ‘Picking Up Sticks’ and ‘Be Happy Children’ , even the most die-hard fans would have left happy but, much to the crowds absolute hysteria, the night wasn’t over yet – the band came back once again to close with a blistering rendition of The Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’.
Weller and the band were in absolute top form throughout; note perfect, having a great time, cramming a career into 2 hours and sending everyone home more than happy. It was a legendary gig in a legendary venue and certainly one to remember.
Images by and copyrighted to Gordy Smith.