FANS of Woking legends The Jam got an extra special treat on Saturday night when the band’s former frontman Paul Weller turned up to play for just 120 people at the HG Wells Centre.
Weller arrived to support a charity event organised by Steve Brookes to raise money for Woking Hospice, joining him on stage for four songs at the end of what turned out to be an intimate evening.
“I had to keep it top secret,” said Steve, who was the original guitarist who formed The Jam with Weller in the mid ’70s, only to quit before they signed to Polydor Records and became an international success.
He had arranged the evening to play old demo tapes from the band’s early days and recreate some of the songs live, as well as recounting some of his memories from the birth of one of the UK’s biggest bands.
“We had a great evening and Paul arriving was the icing on the cake – but we had to sneak him in the back way through the fire escape!” added Steve.
The two musicians played four songs together – Buddy Holly’s Well All Right, Marvin Gaye’s How Sweet It Is, The Beatles’ Things We Said Today and Bye Bye Love by The Everly Brothers, which included a crowd singalong.
“I’m sure people enjoyed it before Paul came along but it was a nice way to finish,” said Steve. “The most important thing was we raised nearly £4,000 for the hospice.
“As well as the ticket money, there were proceeds from the sale of books, CDs, a number of auction items and a raffle.
Paul’s mum, Ann, and sister Nicky also attended the event, and others travelled from as far afield as Aberdeen for the evening, many of them raving about it on Facebook later that evening.
One gig-goer, Mark Hough, wrote: “A cracking night out in Woking. Nice that Paul turned up but still would have been brilliant anyway.
“Thanks of course also to Steve Brookes (below), a talented fella and a very nice chap.”
Kevin Styles added: “Superb night Steve and well worth the 800-mile round trip”, while Karl French wrote: “Just arrived back in Derby. What an unforgettable weekend – I met some fantastic people.
“My thanks to Steve Brookes – what a cracking set topped off by special surprise guest Mr Paul Weller.
“I hope you’ve raised plenty of money for the hospice.”
Steve concluded: “A big thanks to everyone who came to the HG Wells. I was just knocked out by the lovely audience. Of course, a special thank you goes to my ol’ mucker Paul for helping me out.”