Paul Weller at Royal Festival Hall
The crowd erupted with applause and whistles as Paul Weller took his seat at the glimmering grand piano. From the first verse of One Bright Star it was clear that “The Modfather” still has his husky vocals intact. After releasing his new album True Meanings on 14th September, Weller, his orchestra and musicians treated his fans to an intimate evening, sharing the singer’s most treasured songs from his extraordinary four-decade career.
Through most of his set, Weller seemed completely calm and unfazed by his audience, and at one point he could be spotted chewing gum as he played the piano. As Wild Horses came to a close, the artist sprang up and, with a rock’n’roll raised fist, left the stage. Soon enough, the musician reappeared to treat the crowd to Books, another track from the new record, with special guest Lucy Rose. Without a doubt, this piece was more in line with his stripped-back songwriter sound. Without the orchestra, one could hear Weller’s signature smoky tone in its entirety, enhanced by Rose’s mellifluous backing vocals. For once, there was no swaying, or whispering commentaries, just silence as everyone sat in awe. As if the heavenly duo couldn’t get any better, the gorgeous plucking sound of the traditional Indian sitar added an unusual touch. Weller’s arrangement was completely mesmerising – a psychedelic and dreamy performance.
Private Hell was a throwback classic from the songwriter’s days in mod/punk/rock band The Jam, from their 1979 album Setting Sons. The orchestra struck up during the chorus, ominous and suspenseful violins rang out. Art inspired art: Weller admitted the track was inspired by a sorrowful looking woman in a portrait that he once saw. Private Hell was a fantastic contrast to the rest of the performance, the swelling of violins coupled with bleak lyrics of a dreary life was stunning.
The artist never managed to disappoint his fans with his rich and heartfelt, mellow tunes, and Have You Ever Had It Blue was no exception. The Latin-infused number from Weller’s The Style Council band days definitely got the audience moving with its groovy guitar riffs, and the trombonist’s gusty jazz solo had everyone out of their seats and two-stepping to the beat.
Overall, a magical night and brilliant twist on the musician’s most well-loved classics.
For further information and future events visit Paul Weller’s website here.
Watch the video for Movin On here: