Wed 24 July (evening)
It’s my birthday today and I’m currently listening to The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’, a fantastic slice of perfect pop. Quite apt having worked in the entertainment industry as a radio DJ for many years and been a fan of Paul Weller, from his days in The Jam, via The Style Council, to his current position as solo artist. Around the time of the release of his Stanley Road solo album I was lucky enough to meet and interview Mr Weller – what a gent and thoroughly top bloke he was too.
11 July 2013
Cue forward nearly 20 years and there we were, Sue and I, with 8,000 others in the beautiful Kew Gardens one balmy summer’s evening recently (11 July) to see the man headline one of the nights of this year’s ‘Kew The Music’ festival. Other nights included Blondie, Jools Holland, Bellowhead & Billy Bragg amongst others. And I must just say what a brilliant little music festival it is. Relaxed, good bespoke food (picnics if you wanted), micro-brewery beer and sepciality wine, all I might add at an affordable price. Laid-back and well run…others could take a leaf out of Kew’s book.
We arrived just before 6pm by local bus, having booked into the Holiday Inn on Brentford Lock (itself a brilliant place to stay) on the Brentford Canal. The short bus ride dropped us off by the entrance just as the gates opened and within five minutes we were in and had found a place to sit amongst the picnic-ers. There was no bag searching, no queue delays; you could take your own food and drink, including alchohol, into the venue and your cameras too. Another five and we had a bottle of wine, glasses, some food and were chilling in the sun. If only all events were so relaxed and easy! No-one was after your money, there were no programme sellers, no merchandise stalls, just sun, chat and very quickly the first artist – Lucy Rose. Paul Weller had personally asked her to come and play a few songs. She pitched up (minus her band) with acoustic guitar in hand and briskly treated us to a short set. Perfect alt folk in the summer’s sun.
Great performance by Lucy, followed by an equally top set from the main support – Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs. I knew nothing about the band beforehand but that didn’t matter – Sue and I really enjoyed their slightly psychadelic alt rock show, especially after a drop more wine (yes wine!).
Some good food followed in the diming evening sun, plus another bottle of plonk…then before you knew it Mr Weller was taking to the stage, with his tour band, including Simon Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene. I’d seen Paul before a few times, solo and fronting The Style Council, but this was the first time outside. For Sue it was her first experience of Weller live. Great set, including Jam standards ‘Town Called Malice’ and ‘Start’, the Council’s ‘My Ever Changing Moods’, but as is only right it centred on his solo work, especially the new stuff. I did love his live version of Wild Wood though. Great performance…
All that was left was to sink the last of the wine, amble out of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, flag down a cab and head back to Brentford Lock, humming and singing some of the best tunes in the world.
Hat’s off to Kew Gardens and Lucy Rose, Chalie Boyer and the Voyeurs, but especially Mr Weller…still rocking after nearly forty years…now ‘That’s Entertainment’!
Copyright on all pictures Nick Ritchie Photography 2013