Weller's Wild Wood set still puts others in shade
A shady glade played host to a live music stalwart's stirring set of standards, "modern classics" overshadowing material most ?s??ingle artists have produced these past four decades.
Modfather followers from across the North flocked to the open-air event, showcasing Paul Weller's blistering back catalogue of quality tracks, anthemic and eclectic in equally impressive measure.
And none were disappointed, watching summer sun, sinking below timber canopy, set in northern skies, "Wild Wood" resonating throughout a clearing among Dalby Forest's 8,000 acres.
Five summers to very day since his last Forestry Commission England concert here - one of seven nationwide such gigs, culminating in coming Saturday's Cannock Chase Forest appearance, by performer who made his Forest Live debut in 2004 - it was again barnstorming success, testament to fact the sexagenarian style icon simply improves, like finest of wines, with time.
His backing band has become tighter than snare drum, boasting drummer Steve Pilgrim, bassist Andy Lewis, Moons band members Andy Crofts on keys and Ben Gordelier on percussion, accompanied by long time Ocean Colour Scene veteran Steve Cradock's guitar virtuosity.
Stax-style horn section meanwhile accompanied Can You Heal Us (Holy Man) and Peacock Suit, courtesy of support act and recording associates Stone Foundation, whose white soul session warmed up capacity crowd amid cooling nightfall temperatures.
Latest album True Meanings' acoustic ballads unexpectedly mothballed, there's still never shortage of stand-out songs, culled from career straddling The Jam, The Style Council and subsequent 27 summers' solo recordings, when Woking's finest takes to the stage to air formidable full body of work.
More recent recordings, relatively, came thick and fast - and furious as tears - from Above the Clouds to Woo Sé Mama, by way of spiky songs Saturns Pattern and Long Time, to more melodic Broken Stones and Out Of The Sinking, to fan's favoured "first dance" You Do Something To Me.
Early composition Strange Museum enjoyed rare outing as welcome addition while, it being end of the working week, frenetic Friday Street timely captured perfectly pre-weekend party in the park atmosphere.
Council converts were well satisfied with My Ever Changing Moods, Have You Ever Had It Blue and Shout To The Top's life-affirming rendition soaring higher than shady tree-tops above.
Those of us who grew up with what Weller's father-manager oft introduced - expletive inflected - as "the best band in the world," were rewarded with, if not Jam-packed among 27 tunes, more than mod nod to the man's musical roots.
Majestic Man In The Corner Shop, spine-tingling That's Entertainment and spirited Start! all transported us back to formative times past, while priceless Precious, segueing into super-charged time-served Curtis Mayfield cover Move On Up, remained as moving as past performances alongside Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.
Then, just when dancing ranks thought the set couldn't be bettered, forest floor started shaking to tell-tale Motown influenced keyboards and driving bass line back-beat that can only be treat that is Town Called Malice encore.
Angry young man he may no longer be, but this fitting finale from a spokesman for his generation confirmed to all attending the impassioned performer's fire has far from really gone out.
In fact, devotees who found their "way out of the wild, wild wood" were assured, after 40-odd years song-writing and singing, Weller's scorching performances remain hottest ticket around.
I'm Where I Should Be
My Ever Changing Moods
Man in the Corner Shop
From the Floorboards Up
Out of the Sinking
Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)
Woo Sé Mama
You Do Something to Me
Have You Ever Had It Blue
Shout to the Top!
Above the Clouds
Town Called Malice