Live Report: Paul Weller – Poole Lighthouse

A first class music masterclass...

Two key takeaways from attending a Paul Weller gig is that a) it’s always highly memorable and b) Paul and his fantastic band are always a class act. As memories go, one fellow gig goer mentioned that the last time he had seen Paul Weller at Poole Lighthouse was over 40 years ago when he was part of The Jam. Four decades on, seeing Paul perform at the venue where he came of age was quite a special affair. The sense of occasion was not lost on Paul who seemed thrilled to bits to be back performing at this fantastic venue after such a gap in time.

One of music’s most hardworking and prolific touring musicians, Paul Weller treated fans to a jam-packed set of songs from around five decades in music, superbly supported by his accomplished band.

The sold-out crowd were introduced to Sussex-based band Barbara who blend 70s-inspired pop and satirical lyricism. Melodically, the band draws inspiration from a smorgasbord of influences from glam pop to musical theatre. They were full of character and wit and their quintessentially British lyrics drew comparisons to the Small Faces, the Pet Shop Boys and more.

With a career-spanning back catalogue, it’s always intriguing what Paul Weller will include in his ever-expansive set. He even alluded to that it was going to be a long set and that we had better buckle up! 

Effortlessly flitting between guitar and piano, Paul kicked off proceedings with ‘Rip the Pages Up’ which dated back to 2008’s ‘22 Dreams’ and the beautiful ‘Nova’ from ‘A Kind Revolution’.

You can feel the commitment and passion from every member of the band who are one of the best in the business. From Ben Gordelier and Steve Pilgrim’s fantastic drumming on tracks like ‘Cosmic Fringes’ and ‘Start’ to Tom Van Heel’s mesmerising keys on ‘Friday Street’, every band member delivers.

Steve Cradock is quite simply, one of the best guitarists of his generation and has been part of the Paul Weller band since the 90’s and his musical contribution is immense. An enduring and acclaimed musician, he excels throughout, but the respect and chemistry shown between Steve and Paul is particularly evident in the set closer ‘The Changing Man’.

Similarly to Steve, Jacko Peake has been a long-time collaborator of Paul Weller and is always a charming and consummate performer, his wonderful sax solo on ‘Shout To The Top’ really helps elevate the track and you can’t fail to smile when you see him let loose.

The newest addition to the band, bassist Jake Fletcher oozes style and panache with his vintage-inspired shirts and his backing vocals and driving bass lines adds a new dimension to the band.

Sonically navigating through both the old and the new which included two tracks from his forthcoming album ‘66’; ‘Soul Wandering’ and a fantastic rendition of the brilliant ‘Jumble Queen’ which he co-wrote with Noel Gallagher – both of which set the tone of what to expect from Paul’s 17th studio album which is out next month. From what I have heard so far, the Paul Weller train doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon and his highly-anticipated record is going to be highly reflective and will draw upon his life experiences as he turns 66. 

It was great to hear tracks like the beautiful ‘Glad Times’ and the eclectic ‘Fat Pop’ from his 2021 album of the same name. Both of which add a fascinating addition to Weller’s setlist as did the soulful and delicate ‘Mayfly’ where Paul and the band had the audience in the palm of their hands. 

Of course, there were some fan favourites thrown into the mix such as the intoxicating ‘Above the Clouds’, a rousing rendition of ‘Peacock Suit’ and the ever-powerful and emotional ‘You Do Something To Me’

Whilst the majority of the jam-packed set was focused on Paul’s stellar solo career, his work with the Style Council and of course The Jam were incorporated which helped further showcase what an incredible songwriter, musician and performer he really is.

From start to finish, this was a musical masterclass from one of the UK’s best singer-songwriters and his exemplary band. As for my fellow gig goer who waited over 40 years to see Paul perform at his local venue, well, some things are worth waiting for aren’t they?!

Words: Emma Harrison // @EmmaHWriter

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