Paul Weller

Find the Torch Burn, the Plans: Live at the Royal Albert Hall

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Always treated with the utmost of respect by his peers and younger Brit-pop upstarts, Paul Weller's Modfather reputation has been further bolstered by a shower of accolades including an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award, a Godlike Genius statue at the NME Awards, and a Mercury Music Prize nomination for his most well-received effort in years, Wake Up the Nation. It's that particular record that makes up the bulk of the set list on Find the Torch, Burn the Plans, Weller's fifth official live album, which features 12 tracks cherry-picked from his five-night sold-out tour at London's Royal Albert Hall, alongside six songs specially recorded at the Radio 2 Theatre for the station's In Concert strand. Indeed, eight tracks appear from his eclectic and reenergized return to form, including a funky take of "Aim High," an urgent rendition of acid rock opener "Moonshine," and a blistering performance of "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" that recalls the strident new wave punk of the Jam's late-'70s heyday. But while Weller has sometimes previously shied away from his mod revival past, here he appears to embrace it actively, as not only does former bandmate Bruce Foxton turn up on bass duties, but there are also four tracks originally recorded by the Jam, including number one single "Start" and signature tune "That's Entertainment." While his Style Council days are ignored, the rest of his eventful 18-year solo career is represented by a smattering of tracks, from his 1992 self-titled debut ("Into Tomorrow") to 1995 commercial peak Stanley Road ("Broken Stones") to 2008's star-studded 22 Dreams ("Sea Spray"), while guest appearances from Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones on a turbocharged duet of "Eton Rifles," U.S. soul vocalist Lauren Pritchard on a cover version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," and singer/songwriter Richard Hawley on Weller's last Top 40 single, "No Tears to Cry," show just how highly regarded he is by his fellow musicians. Find the Torch, Burn the Plans is the sound of an artist who, at 51 years old, appears to be in the prime of his career and having the time of his life in the process. Anyone who still considers him to be the grumpy archaic dad-rock figure he's become renowned for should think again.

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