Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul Weller Plays Heidelberg

I've had 2 colds this year. Both of which started just before leaving the UK bound for Heidelberg. The last one arrived first thing on Friday morning, and I prayed it wouldn't take hold until at least Saturday. Unfortunately I wasn't that lucky. I was coughing and spluttering like a trooper by the time the gig arrived. Unlike most men, I do actually know the difference between a cold and flu, but my god I felt like crap. I was also determined to not let it detract from seeing Weller.

As I mentioned in the last post, I was met at the airport by my old housemate (Ze German) and her mum. It's been a pretty long time since we saw each other and it was great to catch up with her. I also firmly believe that driving fast is something that is built into the German DNA, Ze German's mum really didn't hang around! But I was extremely grateful for the lift, thanks again ladies. We hung out for a while in Heidelberg and had something to eat whilst I let my cold firmly set in.

As we said our goodbyes I met up with Sakura and Rainbow Girl outside the venue. We were also joined, albeit fleetingly, by Stefan who was there to take some photos of the gig.

This is All Mod Cons, Stefan and Rainbow girl.

And this one includes the lovely Sakura, possibly giving it a "Hey you" point towards the camera!

I've not been to a gig that was all seated before. And to be honest, I was actually looking forward to taking a load off. Sakura managed to save RG & I seats right at the front, a totally uninhibited view of Weller! First up though were support band Moke, a Dutch based band that I hadn't heard of before, although the lady a couple of seats down from me (who kindly gave me some tissues, cheers luv) said that they were pretty good. And to be fair, they weren't bad. I'm always a little sceptical of hearing bands live when I've never heard any of their stuff before. I like to taste their music over a few "listens" first before hearing them live. You only get one shot at listening to a live song, and if the acoustics are wrong, or the set up isn't right, then you're going to lose my interest pretty rapidly. Much like Glasvegas did at Koko earlier this year. Moke were fairly good though. The set they played built up nicely in tempo and their penultimate song, Here Comes The Summer, was absolutely excellent. Although the last song, unfortunately, missed the target for me entirely. I've had a little listen to the song snippets on their website, and would recommend them. It's just a shame they don't have the full versions of at least a couple of tunes.

Then came the man himself. Having witnessed a gig at the BBC just a few weeks ago that was probably a once in a lifetime experience, Heidelberg as a follow-up was always going to have its work cut out. And whilst I was glad for the sit down, I wasn't entirely convinced that having everyone in seats was such a good idea. I've seen a fantastic collection of Weller gigs, both acoustic and full on, but this was the first time that I had seen one that was, in essence, split into two halves. Straight from the off I thought the sound was a little wrong though. The vocals seemed to get lost behind the guitars at times and when Invisible was played (one of my favorite songs from 22 Dreams) I could hardly hear Weller at all. Having said that, All On A Misty Morning was outstanding (and remains the top song played on my iPod, not that that has any relevance to this at all!). I also felt, at times, that the band were kind of just "going through the motions" when it came to the slower songs. Change overs weren't up to their usual slick standards, with Weller wandering off stage for a few minutes leaving the band to do an impromptu "fill in" instrumental. Maybe playing in front of a crowd, all pretty much sitting on their backsides, in such a small venue isn't that inspiring for the performers.

A change of pace was definitely needed. From both the crowds point of view, and Wellers. And when Out Of The Sinking (1 of my personal all time favorites) started, the blood started to pump. Songs like Sea Spray, From The Floorboards Up, and Push It Along were equally excellent. And the version of Wild Wood, similar to the one played at the BBC, was astounding. However, again there were times when the vocals were almost lost, especially behind Cradocks guitar which seemed incredibly overbearing. Whoever did the sound check, and I know there was one because we heard it when we were outside the back of the venue, needs to go back to basics I think.

Before the first of 3 encores we were all told to stand up and make our way towards the stage. I think everyone, including Weller, had had enough of all this sitting around malarkey. And believe me, it was worth doing. It was like a completely different gig. Weller had that familiar swagger back, his chin jutting out as he strutted around the stage totally owning the place. The crowd duly paid it back, singing every word and cheering at any given opportunity. Broken Stones was amazing and Wild Blue Yonder (which is getting close to being my all time favorite live song) was complete musical heaven for me.

All in all it was a pretty good evening. Apart from my cold and the dodgy sound. I met some really nice people, including some German lads who were obviously huge Weller fans. Massive thanks again to Ze German & her mum for the lift and to Sakura for saving us seats and giving me somewhere to quite literally crash at the end of the night. Without you all I would've stayed at home and nursed my swollen, dripping, red nose.

Weller! (Courtesy of Sakura)


I also managed to get hold of Cradocks setlist at the end, mainly because I'm lankier than most people and could reach it, before they started handing out the photocopies. I also got hold of another plectrum of Weller's! I now have 3, all different! I'm going to need a bigger frame on my wall!

Whilst I'm fairly happy with the photos I took, here's a very small example of the quite incredible work from Stefan.

More of his work can be found HERE. Please note that the images are protected by Stefan Duerr Photography copyright. If you wish you use them, please contact him and ask for permission!

As a little "aside", if you drop by from any other sites to read this review, please feel free to leave a comment. Any feedback is welcome, as long as it's not too harsh!

So there you have it, another Weller gig. Normal "Blog" services will now be resumed until the 10th of November when I'll be off to Dublin to see Weller there, and have a good catch up with Ted, another old housemate!


Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Stefan sure can point and click. Your dedication is commendable.

Princess of the Universe said...

Feel better honey!

Reeny's Ramblin' said...

Sorry to hear about the cold, tis the season I suppose. Man, you are one hell of a fan. With all the Weller love, how do you find time to scope out other music?

A couple of weekends ago, Rob and I went to see a show at a place in our hood called "Hugh's Room" it too is a sit down, adult like event. Sometimes at venues like that I don't know what to do with myself. During said show, I managed to get the table cover hooked on to my pants or something and ended up dumping a whole glass of red wine on Rob's lap. Good times.

HSB DaveB. said...

Another excellent review! Thanks so much!!

Peace and SOUL,

David said...

>here's a very small example of the quite incredible work from Stefan

"Incredible" is pretty accurate. Wish I could produce images like that.