At the start of his performance at the Alhambra Theatre, Paul Weller apologised for never playing in Dunfermline in his 40 odd years before…. was it worth the wait?

Before we got to Weller the night started with a support band called Barbara a five piece from Brighton with brothers John and Henry Tydeman being the main components of lead singer and keyboardist. This reviewer had not heard anything from them previously and found them difficult to categorize, perhaps a cross between The Divine Comedy and Queen. They played a 40-minute set of quirky, catchy pop a which perhaps didn’t quite land with an older crowd who had come to see the “modfather” but were entertaining none the less. One to keep an eye out for in the future.

Onto the main attraction. Paul Weller had sold out the Alhambra, a Fantastic old theatre in the centre of Dunfermline in record time. The Alhambra had suggested on social media that this was their biggest ever gig and it seemed that the Fife crowd that attended had a high level of anticipation of a genuine A-list star gracing their town.

Weller took the stage with a 5 piece band including two drum kits and a saxophone and strolled through a 48 year back catalogue.  He started the set with 4 of his more recent songs, “Rip the Pages Up“, “Nova“, “Cosmic Fringes” and “Soul Wandering” however it wasn’t until he started playing some of the older more familiar tunes that the crowd really started to respond.

The first of these older songs was “All the Pictures on the Wall” from 1993’s Wildwood album which was followed by the familiar riffs from The Style Councils “A Man of Great Promise”.

This was followed by more songs from the 2021 album Fat Pop cumulating in the title track which is very different to his older style and some of the crowd seemed bemused by the poppiness of it..

The setlist could easily be divided in two with the second half filled with a lot more of his more recognised compositions. 

The amount of camera phones out when “You Do Something to Me” started showed that the crowd were getting into the spirit of things. Other highlights of the second half included “That’s Entertainment” and “Start” from the Jam years and “Headstart for Happiness” from The Style Council. He played a new composition called “Jumble Queen” which had been co-written by Noel Gallagher which is coming out in May on his new album 66.

Two encores followed, each packed with classics.  As Weller crooned “Wild Wood” from behind his keyboard the crowd was in the palm of his hand and then the Alhambra sang along with “Broken Stones” with Wellers raspy vocals cutting through. A dedication to local legend Stuart Adamson on the week of what would have been his 66th birthday prior to “Mayfire” went down well with the locals.

A final encore of “The Changingman” and “A Town Called Malice” signalled an end to Weller’s first performance in Dunfermline.

On the way out I overheard someone complaining about the setlist and saying there should have been more of the older stuff however Weller did well balancing the old with the new and showing that he remained relevant after all these years. Dunfermline had witnessed a sonic alchemy—a fusion of past and present, rebellion and reflection

Weller asked if he should come back… he needn’t of asked.

Words & Pictures: Allan Petrie @albabrae