Olympia, Liverpool, 19/11/2021
published: 12 /
On the road to promote new LP 'Fat Pop (Volume One)' and celebrate the anniversary of 1990s classic 'Stanley Road', Paul Weller shows no signs of slowing down on record or on stage at a capacity Liverpool Olympia. Richard Lewis reviews
With his second number one album in as many years 'Fat Pop (Volume One)' in the racks this Spring, Paul Weller seems to be speeding up as opposed to slowing down since he reached 60. With lockdown seeing tours postponed, scrapped, curtailed, tonight’s date at the Olympia has been a long time in the coming. Originally scheduled for earlier in the year, you would have assumed the long sold-out show would have given the venue ample opportunity to prepare for the night.
Unfortunately with a queue that stretches into the street behind, the organisational shambles means that the nearest many people get to see of support act The Lathams is of them loading their gear out of the back of the venue.
Touring as part of a seven-piece band, the current line-up bring Weller’s catalogue spanning current live set to life superbly. A superb rendition ‘Shout to the Top’, with percussionist Ben Gordelier recreating the string parts on a sample pad showcases the strength of Weller’s Style Council era songwriting, an era that was until recent years unfairly maligned.
Alongside guitarist Steve Craddock, the longest serving member of Weller’s live band, Liverpool born drummer Steve Pilgrim switches to acoustic guitar to contributes choruses to Wild Wood.
Up against a murmur of chatter that seems almost non-stop in some areas of the venue, the subtle funk of 'Old Father Tyme' and the delicate string assisted 'Still Glides the Stream' suffer from the nattering.
A clutch of tracks from 'Stanley Road' celebrates the (now) twenty-sixth anniversary of Weller’s commercial highpoint. 'Broken Stones' might not seem to be a track that qualifies as a live banger, but the reception it’s opening chords prompt proves otherwise.
The Kinks-esque 'Shades of Blue' from 'Fat Pop' is beautifully poised chamber pop with an indelible vocal melody. Delving into the archives, Brushed, an overlooked gem from 1997's 'Heavy Soul' makes for an excellent setlist addition, succeeded by Into 'Tomorrow,' the track that signalled the decisive start of Weller’s solo career.
Opening the encore with 'On Sunset', a track that pleasantly evokes Damon Albarn gone lounge pop to mind, a double hit of Jam classics brings the near three-hour show to a close. Following a full-band rendition of Jam standard 'That’s Entertainment!' The Modfather requests “Please rise for the new National Anthem” and the venue does exactly that as the keyboard intro for 'A Town Called Malice' kicks into life. A bewildering forty four years since his first appearance on disc, Weller shows now sign of slowing down in this decade, or possibly next.
Photos by Andrew Twambley
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