Paul Weller has been a regular visitor to the Doncaster Dome over the years but such is his legendary status that any call from the Modfather is always both welcome and exciting. The Woking singer has an intimidating back catalogue to choose from with 13 solo albums as well as his ground breaking work in The Jam and The Style Council. Weller would pick liberally from his unique 40 year career over the course of 31 rapturously received songs at Doncaster’s biggest and most dome shaped venue.
Weller released the critically acclaimed album Saturns Pattern in 2015 and it is ‘White Sky’ from that album that kicked things off. To say he has just had his eighth child and is approaching 60, Weller still looks and sounds great. Snarling and strutting, he attacks the microphone with his trademark mod haircut silhouetted against the all black backdrop.
When Weller announces the band are going to play an old song there is a collective intake of breath before they burst into ‘Ghosts’ from The Jam’s 1982 album The Gift. Guitarist and long time collaborator Steve Cradock announces that the next song will be a Style Council number and the crowd goes wild for ‘My Ever Changing Moods’. A stomping ‘Woo Se Mama’ gives way to a glorious rendition of The Jam’s ‘Man in the Corner Shop’ to inspire the first proper sing along of the evening.
Paul Weller is a man of few words who prefers his music to do the talking. The crowd are more than happy with this arrangement however as another Style Council track, ‘Have You Ever Had It Blue’ goes down a storm before the rousing ‘Friday Street’ is given a welcome outing.
‘Come On/Let’s Go’ precedes the first encore of the evening with Weller and the band returning for a tender acoustic section that starts with ‘Wild Wood’, takes in The Jam’s ‘Monday’ before moving breathlessly into a cover of ‘Love’ by John Lennon. The latter song is dedicated to those who recently lost their life in the Syria bombings.
New song ‘Devotion’ sits nicely alongside more familiar material, as does the even newer song ‘Ballad of Jimmy McCabe’, taken from the soundtrack to the upcoming film Jawbone. A slowed down acoustic version of Stanley Road favourite ‘Out of the Sinking’ ends the first encore.
Weller returns to the stage, this time with an electric guitar, to play new song ‘The Impossible Idea’. He closes with a full band version of The Jam’s classic single ‘Start’ before a note perfect, furious run through of ‘The Changingman’.
‘The Changingman’ is a fitting end for the Woking legend as Weller has changed. From The Jam to The Style Council to his various guises as a solo artist, he is constantly striving to retain a fresh and new sound while still being indebted to his past and his influences. 31 songs and nearly two and a half hours confirm that there is life in the old mod yet.
Rob Johnson – www.robwatchesmovies.com