Brixton Academy - 11 December 1998

Leaving the Brixton Academy on Friday night, the guy next to me said “Well, that one will go down in history”. He is probably right.

After a pint in the pub I went and stood in the queue. Once inside everyone else seemed hypnotised by the fact they had a bar, so I wandered down the front and leant on the barrier. Well that was easy enough.

Ocean Colour Scene appeared just after eight O’clock and went straight into “The Riverbank Song”. Following recent discussion, about who was the best guitarist, Weller, Matt Deighton or Steve Craddock, I observed Steve closely, and I think he gets my vote. With Weller, he plays the guitar as the tool of his trade. To Craddock, the guitar is an extension of his arms. He stands looking at the crowd with an expression on his face that says “ Yeh, I can do all of this, and I could do more if I wanted to”. Also, if Steve White should ever decide to retire, then PW could do a lot worse than replace him with Oscar Harrison. During the OCS set, PW’s Mum & Dad could be seen enjoying themselves in the wings, along with young Natty and Noel Gallagher. In fact Natty already seems to have gained worthwhile employment in the Weller empire, as he spent the evening as chief torch waver. I wondered how big a cheer he would of got had he emerged on stage. How much longer until dad lets him have a go at lead tambourine ?

Anyway, you are not reading this for the OCS content, so on with the show. PW reached the stage at nine thirty sharp and started with “Into Tomorrow”. I have never seen him so happy, relaxed and smiling. This was a gig without a set list, with Weller making it up as he went along. Often he would shout across to Matt and Ernie what was next, but they rarely heard him. They would shrug their shoulders at each other until Weller played the introduction, then they would nod recognition at each other and join in. The roadies didn’t have a clue which guitar to bring on or when. Twice Weller walked towards them having removed his guitar, only to change his mind, put it back on again and strike up another song.

This spontaneity led to a timeless feeling to the night. With no set list to dictate how long they would go on for, they could go on forever. They did all of the usual songs that we have come to expect over the past year, “Friday Street”, “Mermaids”, “Porcelain Gods”, “Peacock Suit”, “Sunflower”. There was a new second half to “Heavy Soul” - possibly due to technical difficulties - which saw Paul sit on his chair for a couple of minutes, throw his pick away and play with thumb and fore finger. The mid gig acoustic set featured (“another song the NME didn’t like”) “Brand New Start”, “Up In Suze’s Room” and a song that I didn’t recognise, although a few people were singing along.

Now the most important thing, what was he wearing ? Well, he had a white dress shirt, with decorative white embroidery down the front. He didn’t have his target cuff-links, they were white or silver round ones. He had his dark brown trousers on, with chocolate coloured socks and blue canvas lace up shoes. Matt wore a (fittingly) seventies long pinstriped jacket over a blue sweater and silver necklace. He is still sporting his “70’s Porn Star” look of massive curly hair and Doobie Brothers droopy moustache. Ernie wore a checked blue shirt with faded blue flares, whilst Steve wore a beige polo shirt and jeans.

Eventually they left the stage, to come back with Noel Gallagher and Whitey Junior to do the usual encore of “Gilded Splinters” and “Woodcutters Son”. Noel walked around in a daze with glazed eyes and a big heavy coat, as if he couldn’t comprehend what that wooden stuff was beneath his feet. Perhaps he had a cold !!

THEN, as with all the best charity gigs, OCS came back - to make ten on stage - for an extended “Come Together”. Normally, I leave a Weller gig wishing there had been more. This time we all left satisfied.

“When you find that things are getting wild,
don’t you need days like these”