REVIEW: He's still the changingman - brilliant Paul Weller just keeps on getting better

Paul Weller was in great form at the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Friday night (Pictures: David Jackson)
Paul Weller was in great form at the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Friday night (Pictures: David Jackson)

Well, that was worth the wait...

A week shy of six months since 'the beast from the east' forced the postponement his show at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, Paul Weller returned to the second city for this rescheduled gig on Friday night.

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

This time there was no snow to throw a spanner in the works at the last minute, and Weller and his brilliant band served up an absolute treat.

"Sorry about last time, it wasn't really our fault, but glad to see you're all back," said Weller, three songs into a hits-laden set that had something for everyone.

Now 60, and with more than 40 years of classic songs in his back pocket, Weller ran through every stage of his remarkable career, from The Jam to the Style Council to the solo years.

He has a new album coming out next month, his 26th studio LP, but there were no airings of anything from True Meanings at the Genting (or the NEC in old money!).

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

No, Weller stuck to the tried and tested in what was an amazing 29-song set, which followed on from a high quality support slot from the excellent Stone Foundation.

The quality didn't drop a notch from the opening blast of the thundering White Sky to the very end, which was a second encore and Town Called Malice.

In between we were treated to classic after classic, from The Jam's Man In The Corner Shop from 1980, through to Long Long Time, Woo se Mama and Nova from last year's excellent A Kind Revolution.

As I near my own half century, it's fair to say that Weller has provided the soundtrack to my life, and that would have been the case for the majority of the fans in attendance.

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

There's never a lot of chat between songs from Weller, but there doesn't need to be, as his music does his talking for him, and his current band is arguably the best he has put together, certainly as a solo artist.

Steve Cradock (lead guitar), Steve Pilgrim (drums) and Northampton trio Andy Crofts (bass), Ben Gordelier (percussion) and Tom van Heel (keys) of The Moons were flawless throughout.

Weller himself has never sounded better, he still looks as sharp as a tack, has the energy of a man half his age, and clearly loves playing live to his adoring public.

And they love watching him.

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Highlights? For me, Style Council gem Shout To The Top was a show-stopper, one of of my top 10 favourite songs of all time and, as always, it was great to hear solo beauties such as Sunflower, Hung Up, Into Tomorrow, Above The Clouds and Going My Way.

The first set ended with the double delight of a blistering Whirlpool's End and The Changing Man, while the first encore will have brought a smile to the faces of fans of The Jam, with That's Entertainment and Start! getting an airing, along with TSC's Have You Ever Had It Blue and solo greats Wildwood, You Do Something To Me and Broken Stones.

That would have been a brilliant ending to the night, but there was still one more moment of magic to come, with Weller returning to rattle through Jam behemoth Town Called Malice.

I have probably heard that song a 1,000 times, but I tell you what, I never get bored of hearing it, and it had the whole crowd on their feet - and they stayed there to give the band a deserved standing ovation as they headed off stage.

This was simply a brilliant gig from one of British music's true greats, and a man who is still right at the top of his game.

This really was entertainment.

Paul Weller bassist Andy Crofts

Paul Weller bassist Andy Crofts

Setlist: White Sky, Sunflower, Nova, Ever Changing Moods, Long Time, Man In The Cornershop, I'm Where I Should Be, Andromeda, Going My Way, Woo Se Mama, Shout To The Top, Hung Up, Friday Street, Come On Let's Go, She Moves With The Fayre, Above The Clouds, Into Tomorrow, Saturns Pattern, Long Long Road, Peacock Suit, Whirlpool's End, The Changing Man. Encore 1: Have You Ever Had It Blue, Wildwood, That's Entertainment, Broken Stones, You Do Something To Me, Start. Encore 2: Town Called Malice

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller at the Genting Arena

Paul Weller percussionist Ben Gordelier

Paul Weller percussionist Ben Gordelier

The excellent Stone Foundation were the support act

The excellent Stone Foundation were the support act