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Paul Weller - Catch-Flame (Live At The Alexandra Palace)

Paul Weller, Catch Flame

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LIVE albums, by their very nature, are best reserved for fans only. Hence, if you like Paul Weller, then you won’t want to miss out on either reliving the live experience, or catching up with what you might have missed (if you were unable to get tickets).

Catch-Flame was recorded at the end of Weller’s sold-out UK tour in 2005 at the legendary Alexandra Palace. It’s a 2-CD release, featuring for the first time live renditions of tracks spanning Weller’s entire career.

Included are The Jam classics That’s Entertainment and A Town Called Malice, The Style Council hits Shout To The Top and Long Lost Summer and a selection of tracks from Weller’s solo back catalogue.

Where Catch-Flame does differ from many live experiences is the breadth of its scope, given the many musical incarnations has been a part of. Hence, fans of The Jam might like it as much as fans of The Style Council, or Weller alone. It also showcases the Modfather’s zest for a live show.

The guitar work is often electrifying, the vocals crisp and clear and some of the tracks extremely self-indulgent – providing several extended highlights of classic tracks that you can well imagine whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

There’s not much interaction from Weller – he seems more content to stick to business and cram as many tracks into the gig as possible (the 2 CDs boast a mighty 23 tracks, some of which extend to eight, nine or even ten-plus minutes).

Highlights include rousing versions of recent hit, From The Floorboards Up, which is followed smartly by the oh-so distinct riffs of The Changing Man – a nice one-two if ever there was one.

While a nine minute version of In The Crowd includes plenty of guitar solos and a truly crazy drumming solo that is as madcap and frantic as anything The Muppets’ Animal may have cared to produce. It probably works better when part of a live audience, but there’s no denying the truly infectious nature of its energy.

It’s another smart move to follow such a long track with the two-minute blast of energy that is Come On Let’s Go, with its vicious lyrics, “sing you little fuckers, sing like you’ve got no choice” – as much a rallying call to the crowd on the night as it is a call to arms from Weller?

A strripped down version of Wishing On A Star offers a nice moment of respite as well as the faint sound of the crowd singing along, before effortlessly rolling into another of the set’s acoustic gems, Wild Wood – which is accompanied by a clap-along from the fans.

The best is saved for last, however, as the show is brought to an end with a veritable greatest hits medley of Weller’s career so far – veering from That’s Entertainment to Broken Stones followed by Long Hot Summer, Shout To The Top and, finally, A Town Called Malice – many of which sound better in live form than they do in slightly dated single form.

Catch-Flame is therefore a cracking greatest hits compilation that finds Weller on top form. It’s also a great advert for his terrific live ability. Fans won’t be disappointed.

Track listing:

  1. The Weaver
  2. Out of the Sinking
  3. Blink & You’ll Miss It
  4. Paper Smile
  5. Peacock Suit
  6. From the Floorboards Up
  7. The Changing Man
  8. Savages
  9. Going Places
  10. Up in Suzi’s Room
  11. Porcelain God/ I Walk on Guilded Splinters

Disc 2:

  1. In the Crowd
  2. Come On/ Let’s Go
  3. Foot of the Mountain
  4. You Do Something To Me
  5. Wishing on a Star
  6. Wild Wood
  7. The Pebble & The Boy
  8. Thats Entertainment
  9. Broken Stones
  10. Long Hot Summer
  11. Shout to The Top
  12. A Town Called Malice