In 2005, Paul Weller was on the brink of a spectacular re-ignition. His Britpop figurehead period had become bloated with dull, distended soulman jams (Foot OfThe Mountain) and lover-man balladry that Manilow would find mawkish (You Do Something To Me), and his live show had become a pouty trad plod towards a decade-long bass solo.
His 2005 album As Is Now, and particularly its lead single From The Floorboards Up, sporadically displayed a youthful, Jam-like vigour that would eventually flower into the energised Wake Up The Nation album and the modernist psych-tronic tones of its inspired follow-up Sonik Kicks.
Catch-Flame!, recorded in north London ice cavern Ally Pally in December 2005, captures Weller at that fascinating pivot, still barreling out evergreen rockers like The Changingman, and testing vast audiences waiting patiently for That’s Entertainment and A Town Called Malice with indulgent retro-rock 10-minuters, but finding fresh life, strut and fire in new tracks such as the punkish music hall of Paper Smile.
When midway through Come On/Let’s Go Weller snarls “Sing, you little fuckers!” like he’s still wearing the overtight brogues of 1977, you can virtually hear his third wind being caught./o:p