Shropshire Star

Review: Paul Weller at Forest Live, Cannock Chase

Paul Weller is not a man for cliches so of course the Modfather did not play Wild Wood in a forest.

Paul Weller at Forest Live held at Cannock Chase. Photo: Dave Cox.

The singer songwriter has always been his own man, you get the feeling he would not eat a jam sandwich his mother made just to make a point.

But it is 40 years since he walked away from The Jam and he has carved a career out in his own image.

Usually not the most of chatty performers he pointed out he had been playing with Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Craddock for 30 years now, which surely must be the longest professional relationship he's ever had.

The second of Forestry England’s Forest Live concerts this Summer in Cannock Chase saw men of a certain vintage descend on the natural amphitheatre to relive a bit of their youth.

Paul Weller has been playing with Steve Craddock for 30 years. Photo: Dave Cox.

I've never seen so many bald heads and check shirts in one place in all my life.

But the atmosphere was great, the sun was shining, you have to have faith to book tickets for any outdoor event in Blighty but when the weather rewards us like last night the forest setting was perfect.

Weller started with Cosmic Fringes and From the Floorboards Up, setting his stall out that now over 65 he plays what he wants.

There was a lot of "what's this one called?" in the crowd.

However, his first Style Council tune, My Ever Changing Moods, resonated with everyone, his soulful spell with them really produced some wonderful songs.

Weller's band was tight all night. Photo: Dave Cox.

Headstart for Happiness and In The Deep Sea were played, but sadly for me, not You're The Best Thing.

However, his version of Shout to the Top was just as powerful as it always, a fantastic anthem of fighting back against oppression.

Weller also had new material to play, and the crowd were too polite to disappear to the bar at those familiar words "here's one from the new album".

He explained his new song had been written with Noel Gallagher and called Take. He won't hit the highs of immediate number ones again, and nor does he particularly want to but he still has the creative bravery to produce new art.

Stanley Road was a nice reminder of Weller's 1990s renaissance and The Changing Man was the first song of the encore.

There are countless tribute acts to The Jam, some with former members of The Jam in, but Paul will never be one of them.

So when he plays those timeless songs, which hark back to a time of fighting in playgrounds and people getting a kicking waiting for public transport, they mean something.

Start had all the energy it had when the band was riding high and he finished with A Town Called Malice which everyone knew the words to and sang them to the summer sky.