Review: Paul Weller at Bristol Beacon - ‘Modfather’ fills show with classics but some fans leave gig early

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The iconic musician performed old and new songs to a sell-out audience that included his wife and children

It’s 47 years since Paul Weller became a household name as the angry young frontman of The Jam but he shows no signs of growing old gracefully.

The iconic singer-songwriter marks his 66th birthday next month with a new album (called 66) and he’s still touring harder than many musicians a third of his age. Fresh from an Australian tour, he looked fit, tanned and well and truly up for it on the third night of his long-awaited UK tour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His debut at Bristol Beacon sold out as soon as it was announced and it felt very much like a homecoming for Weller, whose wife Hannah comes from the area originally.

Hannah was at the side of the stage with the couple’s three young children (all sporting industrial-strength ear protectors) and they were soon dancing around as much as the fans.

And it was a good job the kids were suitably protected from the sound as Weller and his six-piece band soon cranked the volume up the moment they launched into first song Rip The Pages Up. Plastic pint glasses soon went flying in the stalls as fans of all ages jostled for the best view.

This was a sprawling set that spanned Weller’s hugely successful solo career as well as a brief look back at The Jam and Style Council.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Weller has never settled for nostalgic sets, preferring to keep things fresh and moving on to the next thing, but his back catalogue is so extensive he could easily play the hits all day if he wanted to.

Instead, we had a mix of old and new, including two stand-out tracks from the new album - the immediately catchy Jumble Queen (lyrics written by his mate Noel Gallagher) and the beautiful and more soulful Nothing. 

The band were tight, muscular and didn’t drop the ball once. Long-time guitarist Steve Craddock has become an integral part of the Weller inner circle now and he teased sounds from his guitar that most musicians only dream of.

The addition of sax and flute from the supremely talented Jacko Peake really brought new depth to some of the older songs and Weller’s voice has never sounded better.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Paul Weller plays to a sell-out crowd at Bristol BeaconPaul Weller plays to a sell-out crowd at Bristol Beacon
Paul Weller plays to a sell-out crowd at Bristol Beacon | mark taylor

Of the newer material, Village and Nova (named after his eighth and youngest child) were highlights of the first half of the 27-song set, and The Style Council’s Shout To The Top! got one of the biggest cheers of the night, with even fans in the balcony standing and dancing in their seats.

But things moved up several notches as soon as Weller dusted off classic You Do Something To Me, quickly followed by the only two Jam songs of the evening - pumping versions of That’s Entertainment and Start! that generated mass singalongs loud enough to splinter the hall’s new wood cladding.

By now a strutting Weller was well and truly in his stride and the set finished with a belting version of Peacock Suit.

After a short wait (presumably a fag break for Weller) the band returned for a five-song encore including The Style Council favourite Headstart for Happiness and solo gems Wild Wood and Broken Stones.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the house lights were turned up, many fans around me headed for the exit - presumably there were last buses and trains to catch - but after a lengthy wait, those who remained in the hall were treated to blistering versions of The Changingman and Porcelain Gods. If you’d left early, you’d be kicking yourself now.

After two hours, Weller and his band finally left the stage for good, although had there not been a curfew and his family waiting in the wings, I dare say he would have happily played through the night if he could.

Earlier in the evening, Weller fans were treated to an impressive set from rising stars Barbara, a Brighton band centred around brothers Henry and John Tydeman. Their blend of sunny 1970s California and British 1960s pop is fused with quintessentially English lyrics similar to The Kinks. They are a name to watch when they tour the UK on their own later this year.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.