A gig can only be as good as the sum of its parts. Like any party, a successful night relies on the host giving the crowd a good time, as well as guests ready to let loose a little, excited about the forthcoming shindig. You get what you give in these situations. Unless you’re Paul Weller, in which case you play with passion and glorious execution, riding on a wave of talent that has not dwindled one bit in the 33 years since The Jam first graced our record players, and get in return muted response from an unenthused crowd filling the floor at Wembley Arena, perhaps tired from mile walk from the tube station, lacking liquid energy at four pound a pint.
Although Wembley Arena’s vapid aura is capable of zapping the soul of many a band, Weller’s charmingly matey persona meant that even amongst 12,500 people, there was a sense of intimacy. This friendly feel was cemented by the Weller family joining in, eldest son Natt, joining in on guest guitar during ‘Echoes Round The Sun’ and five year old Mac playing tambourine on Up The Dosage., but a call for cheers for grime rapper Devlin’s appearance on ‘Trees’ fell flat.
For an old guy, he’s certainly got energy, playing a two and half hour set, including two encores. As well as show casing new album ‘Wake Up The Nation’, the set was heavy on material from 2008’s acclaimed ’22 Dreams’, but judging from the cries of the crowd all anyone wanted was for Weller to ‘play some old stuff mate’, and indeed it was ‘Eton Rifles’ and ‘You Do Something To Me’ that got the biggest roar of the evening.
The hallucinogenic lighting and engaging delivery continued to impress throughout, and the creative diversity of Weller’s catalogue was showcased with verve. It’s just a shame that the crowd forgot they were here to see Paul Weller in 2010, and not The Jam three decades ago.