There’s a fabulous crispness about Buckler’s drumming – an intensity that gives the band part of it’s distinct sound. Somehow ageing has made him look even stronger, arms more muscular, face more chiselled, sloping shoulders draped in trademark Lonsdale gear.
Walking around during the sound check he looks extraordinarily fit. And watching The Gift sound check gives you a snapshot of the band’s outlook: it's full of piss taking and banter with support act Pope. The Gift is a band having a lot of fun.
Weak spots? They’re hard to find. Dave Moore on bass isn’t the biggest stage presence, though The Gift are hardly the first band with a musically talented but quiet basist (The Who seemed to just about manage). And it’s hard not to feel that Russell Hastings, a hugely appealing character in person, would be better off minus his Paul Weller look. It makes him just too vulnerable to the charge that he’s apeing the great man, even if it isn’t true, as he insists.
Buckler has his detractors of course, including Paul Weller. For them The Gift are a cabaret act trotting out 25 year old songs without a note of new material - an exercise in nostalgia for a man who wrote virtually none of Jam’s hits. But Buckler doesn’t care. He really doesn’t. And when the performance is so utterly enjoyable, it takes a peculiar kind of miserable artistic Puritanism to side with the nay sayers.