Sunday, 31 March 2019

Paul Weller @ The O2 Arena in March 2009

Before I was a Bruce Springsteen fan I was also a Queen fan. And before I was a Queen fan I was also a Jam fan and later I became a Style Council fan. It all started with a record given with Pop + Rock magazine 40 years ago, in 1979. Well, not exactly given, but you could buy it from certain shops at half price using a voucher from the magazine. I decided to find out more about the bands featured on that record. Track 3 on side 1 was "David Watts" by The Jam. So I went out and bought the "Going Underground" 7 inch. That's it! I was hooked!
My first attempt to see Paul Weller live was in 2001 when I was in London during his Days Of Speed tour. Unfortunately, the gig was already sold out. My second attempt was for this gig at the O2 Arena 10 years ago, but this was also showing as sold out on Ticketmaster and other sites. So when I was at the O2 Arena in November of the previous year to see Queen + Paul Rodgers I decided to try my luck at the venue box office. And yes, they had a ticket. And the seat was a very good one, close to the stage. So I bought it and I immediately started planning my next London trip in my mind. However, just a few days before the London concert it was announced that Paul Weller would be playing live in Greece! Shock horror! Would my trip to London turn out to be useless? As we will see later, it wouldn't!
When the time came and went to London, what do you know? I almost missed that gig! Apparently the Underground was not operating all the way to North Greenwich station and I was left stranded with several other people at a bus stop in West Ham waiting for a bus! 

It finally came and I made it on time, but only just. I missed Corral, the support act, but I would make up for that 7 years later when they played support for The Stone Roses in Manchester. I only had time to get a beer from the bar and find my seat before the show started.

What we noticed while waiting for Paul to appear was a 10-piece female string section. They weren't accompanying him on every gig of that tour, so that was a bonus. But they would appear on the live CD/DVD from that tour he later released titled "Just A Dream - 22 Dreams Live". So that DVD will always remind me of the gig at the O2 Arena. 

Anyway, when Paul came on stage, he launched straight into "Peacock Suit". He then proceeded with a setlist that had a bit of everything: Jam songs ("Eton Rifles", "The Butterfly Collector", "Town Called Malice"), Style Council songs ("Shout To The Top"), songs from his solo career, and, though I did not realize it at the time, new songs from his next album, the yet-to-be-released at that time "Wake Up The Nation". There was even an acoustic session with him and two other guitarists sitting on stools. All in all, he seemed like a man enjoying himself and was chatting with the audience. (There was even a football comment, something about Chelsea I think, but I didn't quite catch all of it.)

Looking back on it, it was indeed a unique experience. And it wasn't a waste of time or money. When Paul came to Greece later in the year, he didn't have the string section and he didn't play any of the new songs.


--> With the sounds of "Town Called Malice" the last song, still echoing in my head, I left the O2 Arena.

But seeing as there was no tube and I would have to take the night bus, I decided to stay there for a little while. Especially as, from the nearby O2 Bar And Grill I heard some more Weller sounds coming my way. A band called RoShambo was playing there and they included some Paul Weller covers. They saw me filming "Out Of The Sinking" and gave me a free CD! They were suprpised to see the video later on YouTube and commented on it.

Finally, it was time to leave, and I took the night bus to Leicester Square experiencing London by night once again after all these years. 
From Leicester Square, I grabbed a taxi to my hotel in Victoria at the cost of 13 GBP ("a snip!" as Smash Hits would have said back in the 80's)

01. Peacock Suit
02. Out Of The Sinking
03. 22 Dreams
04. The Changingman
05. Wake Up The Nation
06. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
07. From The Floorboards Up
08. Sea Spray
09. Shout To The Top
10. The Eton Rifles
11. Porcelain Gods
12. Invisible
13. One Bright Star
14. Empty Ring
15. You Do Something To Me
16. 7 And 3
17. Have You Made Up Your Mind
18. Push It Along
19. 111
20. All On A Misty Morning
21. Magic Bus
22. The Butterfly Collector
23. Brand New Start
24. Wild Wood
25. Echoes Round The Sun
26. Broken Stones
27. Whirlpool's End
28. Town Called Malice

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