Charity proves to be a running theme tonight - Paul Weller not only headlines for the second year running in aid of the homeless, but gives a leg-up to a younger acolyte. The Modfather ventures on stage early to join Miles Kane, a Mini-me to the veteran artist with his own feather cut and sharp threads.
The pair tear through a tune they have worked on together, Kane explains, the spry ‘You’re Gonna Get It’, far breezier than its title suggests and clearer-eyed than the Scouse artist’s own frenetic take on Merseybeat that mixes Supergrass vitality with a dusting of psychedelia. With his solo career so far failing to make the same impact as Last Shadow Puppets, his side project with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, here is another chance for the well-connected Kane.
This year has been stellar for Emeli Sandé, the Olympic siren with the year’s biggest selling album, Our Version Of Events. The soul singer seems cowed as she murmurs inaudibly between numbers as she adjusts to an unfamiliar crowd, yet when Sandé fills the room with powerful vocals and apparently little effort, you sense how she gains broad support. Odd moments of X-Factor-style power balladry hint at her past as a jobbing songwriter for Susan Boyle, while elsewhere her unadorned delivery focuses on the resilience of ‘Read All About It’ and the tenderness in ‘Breaking The Law’.
With a backing of synths and funky beats, Sandé alludes to classic soul while rarely sounding wholly retro. Weller himself is a long way from his own dadrock rut, with this year’s Sonik Kicks the latest in a series of more freewheeling albums, uneven but often surprising. He is in feisty form, impatiently powering through his set with enough fervour to carry slighter, unfocused experiments, ’22 Dreams’ among them, while thrillingly insistent on the swirling ‘Dragonfly’ and the demented motorik rhythm of ‘Kling I Klang’. There is a generous sprinkling of oldies, with a taut ‘Start!’, a ‘Strange Town’ bristling with menace and a rootsy ‘Carnation’.
Sandé joins him for a rough, spirited ‘People Get Ready’, both sharing the same silvery-grey hair colour, but no one tonight receives the same adulation as Bradley Wiggins. For a final flourish, he plays unassuming guitar on an otherwise exuberant ‘That’s Entertainment’, coaxed to the mike to provide backing vocals. The awaiting buckets fill with change, as many think a bonus payment in order.