Don’t miss Paul Weller at the Barbican
Saturday: Paul Weller at the Barbican; (BBC Two, 9.30pm – Wales, 10pm)
Staying in could well be the new going out – well, until the final social distancing restrictions are eventually lifted, that is.
So, if you don’t have any plans to leave the house tonight, kick back and enjoy this special performance by a man widely considered as one of the best singer-songwriters of all time, the one and only Modfather, Paul Weller
Presented by Edith Bowman, the show, which was recorded back in May as part of the Live from the Barbican series, sees the quintessentially British musician take to the stage for his first live gig in two years.
Weller is no stranger to performing live with an orchestra – he did so to critical acclaim in support of his 14th studio album True Meanings at the Royal Festival Hall in 2018. Now he has collaborated with arranger and conductor Jules Buckley, ever-present sidekick Steve Cradock, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to celebrate his five-decade career.
Weller first achieved fame with the punk rock/new wave/mod revival band The Jam during the mid to late 1970s, and then had further success with the blue-eyed soul music of the Style Council in the 1980s, before establishing himself as a solo artist with his eponymous 1992 album, and continuing success throughout the next three decades.
The Daily Telegraph has said of Weller: “Apart from David Bowie, it’s hard to think of any British solo artist who’s had as varied, long-lasting and determinedly forward-looking a career,” while in 2007, the BBC described him as “one of the most revered music writers and performers of the past 30 years”.
Over the years, he has received four Brit Awards, winning the award for Best British Male twice, and the 2006 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
During the course of the evening, we will track the musician’s ever-evolving output from his early work in The Jam, dance-inflected songs with The Style Council and solo classics, to brand new songs from his recent album Fat Pop (Volume 1).
Added to all that, there are interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, as well as guest appearances from three of Weller’s musical pals.
There is a soulful duet of Stanley Road’s Broken Stones, between the Steinway-sat Weller and James Morrison, that ends in a groovy a capella outro, gorgeously augmented by three backing singers.
Also in the show is a wondrous version of Wild Wood, re-packaged like a movie score that would have graced a Sergio Leone epic, and warmly enriched with the jazz-tinged vocals of the immensely talented Celeste.
Finally, Weller’s old mate Boy George features on a reimagining of The Style Council’s 1984 hit You’re The Best Thing.
Add into that, other deep cuts from SC era, including My Ever Changing Moods and It’s a Very Deep Sea, The Jam’s Carnation, solo hits English Rose and You Do Something To Me, and strong new tracks On Sunset and Glad Times, and the result is another entertaining chapter in the Modfather’s vastly lauded musical adventures.
The climax of the show is the folk song White Horses from the True Meanings album.
On any normal night, this would provide a resounding finale for a packed Barbican.
But in these days of staying in, the venue is almost empty, so we will just have to enjoy the intimacy of this special gig from the safety of our own homes.
Also tonight, there is another chance to see Weller at the BBC (10.30pm), a compilation of performances tracking the career of singer-songwriter.
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