Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paul Weller blows us away

It always intrigues me how certain bands or individuals can be huge in Europe, Australia and even Brazil, yet never reach the same heights of fame and fortune in the USA or Canada. Paul Weller is a classic example. On today’s tour, I mention I attended his gig at the Royal Albert Hall last night and am met with blank stares from the North Americans on board. There’s no rhyme or reason for this strange state of affairs but from the evidence of his concert last night you Yanks are missing out on one of the greats.

I put Weller’s continuing success here down to the incredible variety of his music, his ability to write the sort of songs that make up life’s soundtrack, his energy-filled live delivery and his remarkably unpretentious manner.

Over a two-hour plus show ‘the Modfather’, as he is referred to here, delivered a powerful and varied set to a rapturous and noisy audience. Although you could argue that it’s all connected by classic ‘mod’ influences (ska, soul, rock) his musical cannon can’t be easily pigeon-holed. A Weller show gets its continuity from the man himself, not a particular style of music. He split his performance into easily-digestible, crowd-pleasing sections covering the dance-inducing Style Council years, the ‘up an at ‘em’ punk favourites of The Jam, the reflective man-with-guitar solo balladry of recent times,all topped off with some great driving rock. What is apparent from audience reaction is that he’s carried his many fans through each of his musical periods.

Bowie is often touted as the great musical chameleon but Weller is surely his match.

He’s also a ‘regular bloke’. He might be considered to be stylishly mod (and it’s along time since I’ve been in an audience of so many look-alikes! Weller could probably make as much by patenting his hair style as selling his music … ) but on stage his dress is a muted v-necked T shirt and ‘ordinary’ trousers. There’s no flash, no ‘dressing to impress’. It’s the same with his delivery. He gets the job done. Any rock poses struck are authentic not contrived, growing out of the demands of the song, not added as a visual appendage. He commands the stage although never being Pima donnish.

All-in-all, a great gig. I’d advise those who aren’t familiar with the man’s music to invest in a few downloads (any suggestions from followers?). I’m envious; you’ve an exciting musical find ahead.

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