Paul Weller Live Review: As he approaches 66, The Modfather is on some of the most potent form of his life

Ever changing grooves: Paul Weller and his band take no prisoners over a fat-free, career-spanning set.

Paul Weller Leicester De Montfort Hall April 2024

by David Hutcheon  |
Updated on

Photography: Robert Barrett

Paul Weller

De Montfort Hall, Leicester, April 9, 2024

Although lockdown now seems to have become a vague memory from our shared folk mythos, the effects rumble on. For Paul Weller, the productive burst of 2020-21 - two chart-topping albums, On Sunset and Fat Pop - coincided with padlocked chains across doors and an inability to take his new songs to the arenas where their creator is most alive. As a result, his current tour of Britain has taken on the air of ‘An Event’. A voice in the queue outside this evening underlines that feeling: “It’s the first time I’ve been to this venue since I saw The Banshees and The Cure in 1979.”

Though nothing in the 115-minute set comes from Weller’s 1970s, the 29 songs aired do span 44 years and several artistic lifetimes, and there’s a muscular, take-no-prisoners briskness that says sitting at home twiddling their thumbs does not come naturally to this most road-friendly of bands. The speed with which the seven musicians walk to their positions at precisely 8.45pm suggests they have got their adrenaline flowing in the wings beforehand; what follows contains no flab, no excess, no time-wasting.

Business as usual, then, but more so. Rip The Pages Up - a 2008 B-side - is a powerful opener, a  clarion call and introduction to the heavy soul vibe to come. Even slower numbers such as You Do Something To Me and My Ever Changing Moods have a Sawdust Caesar swagger about them - nobody messes with the tempo, but you wouldn’t want to get in their way in a darkened alley or midnight tube station - as if the restless Weller is already contemplating the next song by the time the opening chords have reached the audience.

Three songs - Soul Wandering, Jumble Queen and Nothing - from this year’s forthcoming 66 slot in seamlessly and act as a reminder of Weller’s unyielding approach to his career. A winter tour of the Far East and Australia to lubricate the joints; a spring tour of 2,000-capacity venues in advance of the album, a taster to hook us in; North American dates to maintain momentum; an autumn UK tour once the new tunes have bedded into our consciousness. There’s a heap of ageist guff spoken about veterans who appear to give little thought to quitting - Weller is 66 in May - but here it’s a two-way street, with much of the crowd comprising folk who have averaged one or more gigs a year by their hero since 1977 and have no intention of throwing in the towel just yet.

In the bar afterwards, these veterans of the trenches hold court: Paul’s singing better in 2024 than he has for a good few years. Yeah, guitarist and trusty lieutenant Steve Cradock is a genius, but it’s sax/flute maestro Jacko Peake who makes the shows special. The weathered yet soulful voice unveiled on White Horses and Old Father Tyme has given old material a new lease of life. There are at least 20 more songs worthy of an outing, but nothing that should be dropped. If Start! didn’t get played, though, nobody would bat an eyelid, but That’s Entertainment is sacrosanct; and Shout To The Top is a level above that, the sine qua non of a memorable night out.

If you are given to believing that Weller’s fans are Mods who have traded their Vespas for bus passes yet refuse to let go of a youth inspired by All Mod Cons, your cynicism will take a battering by the energy and enthusiasm on show. The simple pleasure of seeing a crack band concentrating on executing the basics to perfection means it’s impossible not to admire too the fire that drives them in their leader’s sixth decade as a working musician. Sixty-six and 66 suggest 2024 is going to be a vintage year for this changing man.

Set list:

Rip The Pages Up


Cosmic Fringes

Soul Wandering

All The Pictures On The Wall

Man Of Promise

The Pleasure

Stanley Road

Glad Times

Above The Clouds


Fat Pop

Hung Up

Shout To The Top


Jumble Queen


You Do Something To Me

That’s Entertainment


Peacock Suite

Headstart for Happiness

Wild Wood

Broken Stones



The Changingman

Porcelain Gods

My Ever Changing Moods

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