Top stuff! Music legend Paul Weller delivers the hits and more at Bedford Park
‘We’ve got some old songs to play, new songs… we’re in for a long night!’
That was Paul Weller’s introduction to the crowd at his big outdoor gig at Bedford Park on Saturday night - and he wasn’t wrong.
Although, if truth be told, the 27 songs and two hours that followed simply flew by.
From the searing riff of set opener White Sky, to the glorious finale, the fans that flocked to Bedford on a warm but cloudy summer’s night to see ‘the Modfather’ were treated to the sight and sounds of an absolute master at work.
The crowd lapped it up from the off, and Weller himself seemed to be having a great time.
He smiled and chatted throughout a set that spanned his classic-laden 45-year musical career, picking out tunes from The Jam, The Style Council and his vast solo catalogue.
After support stints from Andrew Cushin and the excellent Richard Hawley, Weller hit the stage running with a blistering trio of solo fizzers, White Sky being followed by Long Time and Cosmic Fringes.
Before the halfway stage we’d heard TSC classics My Ever Changing Moods and Headstart For Happiness (might have got a bit of dust in my eye for that one), as well as 90s hit Hung Up and the title track to his biggest selling LP, Stanley Road.
Hawley returned to the stage for a belting cover of Going To A Go-Go, before the pace slowed for TSC track It’s A Very Deep Sea and Rockets, from the 2020 number one album On Sunset.
Now, I'll admit it, I am a bit of a Weller obsessive, so I love to hear new songs and solo album tracks, but for some in the crowd this may have been seen as a bit of a lull.
It seemed even Weller himself could feel it as he admitted ‘it’s gone a bit quiet out there… sorry about that!’
And he proceeded to change the mood straight away, with what followed over the next 45 minutes or so the closet thing you will ever get to a Paul Weller greatest hits set.
He closed out the main gig with Into Tomorrow (featuring a stunning ‘drum duet’ with Steve Pilgrim and Northampton’s own Ben Gordelier), the brilliant Shout To The Top, Jam classic Start! - the first airing of anything by his first band, but not the last - and Peacock Suit.
The flawless band (consisting of Steve Cradock on guitar, Jacko Peake on brass, Thomas van Heel, a regular with Northampton band The Moons, on keys, Pilgrim and Gordelier on drums and Jake Fletcher on bass) exited at this point only to quickly return for the encore - and what an encore!
Ask music fans to pick out their favourite Weller tracks, and I am pretty sure what followed next would feature pretty high on most people's lists, it was incredible.
We were treated to 90s solo monsters Broken Stones, Wild Wood, You Do Something To Me and The Changing Man, with a couple of pretty tasty Jam numbers thrown in for good measure.
First up was the classic That's Entertainment ('there are a lot of words, a lot of verses, sing along if you know any'), before the gig was rounded off with perhaps Weller's best known song of the lot, Town Called Malice - which is now, scarcely believably, 40 years old!
By this time, the whole crowd were on their feet, singing, dancing and having a great time - and that is what it is all about.
This was a great night, at a great venue (the organisation was excellent) watching an all-time great perform great music.
Gigs don’t get much better than this.
Tracklist: White Sky, Long Time, Cosmic Fringes, My Ever Changing Moods, From The Floorboards Up, Headstart For Happiness, Village, Stanley Road, Saturns Pattern, Hung Up, Fat Pop, More, Going To A Go-Go (with Richard Hawley), Woo Se Mama, It's a Very Deep Sea, Rockets, Above The Clouds, Into Tomorrow, Shout To The Top, Start!, Peacock Suit.
Encore: Broken Stones, That's Entertainment, Wild Wood, You Do Something To Me, The Changingman, Town Called Malice