Weller's Wild Wood set still puts others in shade

Paul Weller rocks Forest Live (Photo: David Harrison)
Paul Weller rocks Forest Live (Photo: David Harrison)

A shady glade played host to a live music stalwart's stirring set of standards, "modern classics" overshadowing most material many ​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 years 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, Andy Crofts on bass,Tom van Heel 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.

Fans flocked to Dalby Forest gig (Photo: David Harrison)

Fans flocked to Dalby Forest gig (Photo: David Harrison)

​Latest album True Meanings​' acoustic ballads - supremely showcased on Other Aspects Live At The Royal Festival Hall -​ unexpectedly mothballed​, there's still ne​​ver 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.

Wild Wood Weller (Photo: David Harrison)

Wild Wood Weller (Photo: David Harrison)

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, remain​ed 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, tambourine-tinged 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.

Setlist

I'm Where I Should Be

My Ever Changing Moods

Long Time

Man in the Corner Shop

From the Floorboards Up

Out of the Sinking

Wild Wood

That's Entertainment

Mermaids

Brushed

Strange Museum

Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)

Woo Sé Mama

You Do Something to Me

Have You Ever Had It Blue

Shout to the Top!

Hung Up

Above the Clouds

Friday Street

Into Tomorrow

Peacock Suit

Encore:

Saturns Pattern

Phoenix

Broken Stones

Start!

Precious

Town Called Malice