October 1, 2017
Dubbed, "The Modfather" due to his being one of the principal figures of the 1970s and 1980s mod revival, Paul Weller first achieved fame with the punk rock and new wave band The Jam. After The Jam disbanded Weller formed the blue-eyed soul, pop, folk and jazz influenced band, The Style Council. In 1991 he went solo and since that time has released a number of solo studio albums. A Kind Revolution (Parlophone Records), his thirteenth solo studio release, dropped in May 2017. Weller has received much acclaim as a singer, guitarist and lyricist. Unfortunately, Weller is more revered in his native England (and the rest of the United Kingdom) rather than in the United states. As such, he is less of an international star. This is possibly due to the fact that much of his lyrics and music is decidedly rooted in British culture.
On Sunday evening, October 1st, on the opening night of his North American tour, following a short set by singer-songwriter Arum Rae who expressed her gratitude to Weller when she said, "...he's not only a great musician, but a kind person," Weller and his crack band took the stage at Huntington, NY's The Paramount. He delivered a powerful and rockin' set of songs that honored both his legacy and his solo career. Dressed comfortably in jeans and long sleeved blue pullover with a red button stating "I Stand For Love" pinned on the right, Weller opened the concert with "I'm Where I Should Be" from 2015's Saturns PatternCD (Parlophone records), a spirited version of The Style Council tune "My Ever Changing Moods" and "White Sky" also from Saturns Pattern.
Under an amazing and pulsating light show, Weller showcased his new songs ("Long Long Road," the bouncy and rocking "Woo Sé Mama," the groovy "She Moves With the Fayre") in the main set and "Hopper" during the encores. As the evening progressed, Weller dipped deep and far into his solo catalogue. "Above The Clouds" and "Into Tomorrow" (both of which are mainstays of his live shows) from his self-titled solo debut (Go! Discs, 1992) graced the middle portion of the main set. He visited his Wild Woodalbum (Go! Discs, 1993) with "The Weaver" and the title track (which was played during the first set of encores). Heavy Soul (Island, 1997) was represented with performances of "Friday Street," and "Peacock Suit." Other highlights included "You Do Something To Me," "Porcelain Gods," "Whirlpool's End" and the final song of the first group of encores "Out of the Sinking" which were all originally released on Stanley Road (Go! Discs, 1995).
The Saturns Pattern was revisited with the performances of "Long Time" the title track and "Going My Way." The performance of the driving "From the Floor Boards Up" from As Is Now (Yep Roc, 2005) was truly astonishing. It rocked and had the crowd bopping. On this evening "Shout To The Top was the only other nod to The Style Council--and it was played early during the performance.
During the course of the evening, Weller played electric and acoustic guitar as well as keyboards. His top-notch backing band (guitarist Steve Cradock, bassist Andy Lewis, Steve Pilgrim on drums, Ben Gordelier on percussion, and keyboardist Andy Crofts) performed a 20-song main set followed by a five song acoustic first encore set and an electric 4 song set of final encores. There were only two Jam songs played, both during the encores. "Monday" was the first song of the first encore and "Start!" was the penultimate song of the evening. Sadly, on this night there was no "A Town Called Malice," "That's Entertainment," "Beat Surrender or "David Watts."
Now, that doesn't mean that the show lacked the fire of The Jam. Quite the contrary. The performance rocked and the audience mostly comprised of Baby Boomers loved every minute of it. The last four songs which comprised the second set of encores: "These City Streets," "Broken Stones, "Start!" and the finale, the somehow appropriate and fitting "Come On/Let's Go" were just as high-energy as the opening numbers.
The show was a joyous affair. The 59-year-old Weller clearly enjoyed himself. The fans were in heaven as he played with the energy, elation and bliss of a much younger man. A Paul Weller show, for those in the know, is less of a concert and more of a special event. Those in the know, flock to these performances and are always rewarded...and on this night the rewards were great.
Photo credit: Christine Connallon