Paul Weller, Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow 29th November 2021
It’s been a number of years since Paul Weller has graced the famous Barrowlands stage in Glasgow, with his last few Scottish appearances being the cavernous Hydro Arena and the soul-less Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, however its third time lucky and he is back once again after a couple of lockdown postponements to grace one of his proclaimed favourite venues, and the Glasgow crowd are delighted to welcome him with open arms!
Tonight’s setlist would see Weller cover all areas of his career, from the 1980 album ‘Sound Affects’ by The Jam, to 1983’s Style Council debut album ‘Café Bleu’ and through to his latest solo release ‘Fat Pop’. There can’t be many artists of the calibre of Paul Weller, with such a vast and yet varied catalogue of work to pick and choose from. Making a tour setlist must be a headache!!
Ably assisted by his usual stalwarts Steve Cradock on guitars and mouth organ, Steve Pilgrim on drums, Ben Gordelier on percussion and Tom Van Heel on keyboards, tonight’s bass duties are on the shoulders of Josh McClorey, a young man from Cavan, Ireland who was original with The Strypes who replaces Andy Crofts. There’s also Jacko Peake on flutes, sax and clarinet.
The intro music for the band taking the stage is a track from one of Weller’s favourite albums, “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles from the ‘Revolver’ album. The roar from the crowd drowns out the 1966 classic psychedelic tune, as the ‘orchestra’ builds up to the opening notes for “White Sky”, from the ‘Saturn’s Pattern’ album. There’s intensity, effort and enthusiasm as Weller sets out his stall for the evening. The atmosphere in the hall is electric, with the 1900 capacity crowd lapping up every second.
The big numbers follow on. “Peacock Suit”, old Style Council classic “My Ever Changing Moods” and second solo single “Hung Up” before a few tracks from 2020’s first lockdown record ‘On Sunset’, “Old Father Tyme”, “Village” and “More”. A dozen songs into the setlist and already the diversity in the music is astonishing, from loud, brash and in-your-face rocking guitar tunes, to slow, piano-based soulful numbers, Weller has everything in his locker, and performs these songs effortlessly.
The Middle section of the gig would see a hark back to 1995 classic ‘Stanley Road’ album with no less than five tracks on the spin, including fans favourite “Broken Stones”, “The Changingman” and “You Do Something To Me”. The first act concludes with storming versions of “Wild Wood”, accompanied by Steve Pilgrim on vocals, “Brushed” from the ‘Heavy Soul’ record and finally “Into Tomorrow”, Weller’s first solo single from 1990.
After a well-deserved break and a quick turnaround, the band re-enter the stage for a five-track encore. A mini acoustic set that was included in earlier gigs on the tour has been scrapped with Weller apparently annoyed at some sections of the crowd for their reluctance to ‘shut the f*ck up’ as he politely put it. 1997 single “Friday Street”, “Can You Heal Us Holyman” from the Wild Wood era and “On Sunset” are played before the finale everyone was waiting for. Weller thanked the crowd for their patience due to unavoidable rearrangements, reiterated how great it was to be back in the venue and burst into the opening chords of The Jam’s classic “That’s Entertainment”, before a rousing “Town Called Malice” closed the show. The band took their bows, left the stage and the fans clamoured for the usual setlists and used plectrums, before being ushered out into the wintery Glasgow evening.
There are fans of all ages at a Weller gig, from the old crew who have followed him from the early days to their kids who have been force-fed a musical diet of The Jam and The Style Council throughout their lives. A giant of the British music scene, Weller just goes from strength to strength, his body of work is a testament to years of evolution, hard work and determination, he never stands still and is constantly working. For a man in his 6th decade to show such energy and effort in his performance, he would put many of his contemporaries half his age to shame. And worryingly for them, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Paul Weller is at the top of his game and is only getting better. Live and in concert? Now THAT’s entertainment!!!
PHOTO GALLERY – PHOTO CREDIT: MARTIN BONE