'Sonik Kicks' in its entirety
Paul Weller - Live At The Roundhouse, London

With Paul Weller’s much touted ‘Sonik Kicks’ album still unreleased, it took either balls, bravery or tenacity for the man to set foot onto the Roundhouse stage, in Camden, and play said album in its entirety.

These days the Weller you see is much different to the Weller you hear. While his attire takes on threads of ever-increasing modness, his music has long since veered off the roundabout of expected respectability and taken a left turn of experimentation and seeming wilful perversity.

It’s a journey that began with ‘22 Dreams’ and ‘Wake Up The Nation’ and has manifested itself in all its glory on ‘Sonic Kicks’.

But how would The Jam and Style Council loving faithful take to Weller’s latest creative u-turn?

Striding out onto the Roundhouse stage looking fit, tanned and healthy, the Modfather fired straight into album opener ‘Green’. A Bowie styled cut-and-paste lyric, matched by a driving Neu! inspired soundtrack, many arms remained folded, and a few feet began to either head towards the bar or exits.

As the album reached its poppier elements, Weller, band and six-piece string section, seemed to settle and capture the attention of the remaining throng. Single-to-be, ‘The Attic’, and his current 45, ‘That Dangerous Age’, swaggered, bleeped and pounded in all their glory.

From thereon-in Weller was on the home straight with some of the finer moments of ‘Sonik Kicks’ – ‘Study In Blue’, ‘Dragonfly’, ‘Drifters’, ‘Paperchase’ and ‘Be Happy Children’ – housed among the album’s second half.

The band took a ten minute break before returning for a seven track acoustic set. Repaying the audience’s patience with a faithful version of The Jam’s ‘English Rose (All Mod Cons)’. Weller then gave stripped down reinterpretations of ‘Aim High’ and ‘No Tears To Cry’; two highlights from ‘Wake Up The Nation’.

Then came the moment the crowd had been waiting for. The band went full-on electric and fired into a jaw-dropping salvo of ‘Moonshine’, ‘From The Floorboards Up’ and ‘22 Dreams’.

We were then transported back to the Britpop era with a rare recent outing of the title track from Weller’s platinum selling album, ‘Stanley Road’.

‘Wild Wood’ highlight, ‘Foot Of The Mountain’, and Weller’s signature tune, ‘The Changingman’, remained diminished by the passing years. He then upped the tempo even further with ‘Fast Car/Slow Traffic’ and ‘Wake Up The Nation’, before bringing proceedings to a fitting crescendo with ‘Whirlpool’s End’.

He said little, other than to apologise for some early first night nerves, but in truth Weller’s always let his music do the talking. And at the Roundhouse his ‘Sonik Kicks’ material spoke volumes of a man still riding the peak of yet another creative high. Catch him while he’s still this good!

Words by Mike Cobley
Photos by Andy Sturmey

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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