Friday 20 September 2019

Paul Weller, Olympia Theatre, Dublin review: 'He clearly pooh poohs nostalgia but a bit more balance towards pleasing a paying audience wouldn't go astray'

Paul Weller
Paul Weller
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

It is somewhat surprising that so few live bands bother with the old two drummers trick. James Brown and Adam and the Ants made a spectacle out of themselves by having an extra man behind the kit back in the day. The Fall, Pavement, Slipknot and Arcade Fire have since dabbled in double drumming, and now Paul Weller's latest crack squad of musicians doubles the usual percussive quota with loud results.

‘White Sky’ from this year’s twelfth studio album Saturn’s Pattern is a blistering blast of raucous rock n’ roll. The recipe for a Paul Weller set list remains the same as recent years. There are about three songs from The Jam, who dramatically kick-started his career back in 1976, and about three songs from The Style Council, his derided eighties project that holds up remarkably well. The rest encompasses his prolific solo career since 1991.

There is a very business like, no nonsense approach to the proceedings. Thank you and song introductions are kept to a bare minimum. The dapper Modfather is clad in grey and natty black and white brogues, looking every inch the bona fide rock icon.

It looks and sounds great, but anyone expecting a best of set is bound to be slightly disappointed, although admittedly the audience are clearly populated by his hardcore. Patience is rewarded by an irresistible version of ‘Start!’ and its classic refrain of “and what you give is what you get.” You’d think the encores section is where he’d start to bang out the hits, but not before renditions of newer songs ‘Pick it Up’ and ‘These City Street’.

Weller clearly pooh poohs nostalgia, which is all well and good, but a bit more balance towards pleasing a paying audience wouldn't go astray.

Before the last bow, Weller finally delivers brilliant versions of ‘The Changingman’ and the timeless number one hit from 1982, ‘A Town Called Malice’, which has lost none of its spiky brilliance. Weller gives a good show, but more expansive set list would make it a great one.

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