Paul Weller

Catch-Flame! Live at the Alexandra Palace

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Another year, another live album. Paul Weller has turned out to be as predictable as the Rolling Stones in how he follows a new set of material with a live album, following every album since Wild Wood with a live record. Because of this it's hard not to superficially see 2006's Catch-Flame! Live at the Alexandra Palace as just another live album, but take the time to listen to Catch-Flame! and it soon reveals itself as a surprise every bit as bracing as Weller's 2005 studio album As Is Now: a record that doesn't sound all that different from its predecessor, at least on the surface, but underneath that surface, it's apparent that Weller's fire is again burning intensely. There's a vigor and vitality to this performance that eclipses all his other live solo albums; it's as kinetic as early Jam, but without abandoning the Traffic-inspired, jam-heavy aesthetic that marked his solo work. As such, it's satisfying both as an exciting, energetic live album and as one to savor, to really enjoy the interplay between the musicians, and it makes Catch-Flame! something far more than another Weller live album; indeed, it makes it closer to being the live Weller album instead of just another live record.

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