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Paul Weller, Kings Dock, Liverpool, 16th July 2003

The cosmic scouse rock sextet, The Bandits, warmed the crowd up nicely with a combination of bouncy influenced tracks, like the opener 'On my way', and the more chilled out sound of 'Take it and run', their latest single. Front man John Robinson lost himself in the music, as did a lot of the people who turned up early, he was a little disappointed that everyone was sitting down.

That soon changed when the Modfather himself Paul Weller strolled onto the stage to a standing ovation, clad in a loud paisley shirt that, if any one else wore, they would almost certainly be deported. The night started with the positive forward-thinking old song 'Into tomorrow' from the first solo album Weller made over 11 years ago. He looked as lively and sprightly as ever, despite being in his mid-forties. The audience applauded warmly and you did not need to be a mind reader to realise that the majority of the crowd were thinking that, if he is prepared to go back and do some old solo stuff, then maybe he was willing to go back a little further?

The masses only had to wait until the third song to find the answer; the first few chords of The Jam song 'In the crowd' rung out around the compact venue. This was greeted with bewilderment at first, like everyone had just won the lottery, then the realisation kicked in, everyone was livelier and more excitable than Graham Norton with a jet powered engine stuck up his backside. None more so than Mr Weller himself, who strutted and gyrated around the stage with his guitar in hand, as though he was twenty again and playing the song for the first time.

The crowd was on a high after this and Weller never let them come down, as the hits kept coming from all stages of his career such as 'Man in the cornershop' and 'The Changingman'. The spine-tingling love song, with Paul playing the piano, 'You do something to me' was a particular highlight. The rest of the band were in fine form as well, with Steve White doing a blistering drum solo in 'Picking up sticks', while Weller had a fag and did a shimmy. The two Ocean Colour Scene members of the line-up, bassist Damon Minchella and Craddock (guitar and backing vocals) were tight and looked to be having fun, which bodes well for the OCS tour and new album out soon.

Proceedings reached a high towards the end of the main set when Weller put his hands in the air with a tambourine in one hand, as the opening riff to the timeless 'A town called Malice' resonated around the arena, bringing about an all mighty cheer. The song contains lyrics that sum up Weller and what his live shows do to the places he visits: "I'd sooner put the joy back in, this town called malice'.

Boy, did he achieve that and more after finishing with the breathtaking 'Woodcutter's son' from the "Stanley Road" album. Hopefully he won't leave it as long as he did last time before returning to the City of Culture!

David Adair

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