Skip to main content

Review Of Paul Weller's Nokia Theater Gig From The New York Times!

English Energy, Motown Rhythms

Published: September 11, 2008
The New York Times

Almost 30 years ago, when he was in the Jam, Paul Weller described his influences as the Sex Pistols and Motown. The Jam ended in 1982, and the Sex Pistols are gone from his music. But Motown’s still there — a generalized, rock Motown, Anglicized through the Who and Traffic and the Northern soul nightclub culture of the ’70s and ’80s.

A famous Motown beat, with the snare on all four quarter notes, anchors a lot of Mr. Weller’s songs. It’s an aggressive, energizing, crowding beat, one that leaves you no room — it wants your time and cooperation — and it kept surfacing at his show at the Nokia Theater on Wednesday.

In England Mr. Weller is nearly a national hero, and his records enter the pop charts. Here he’s for Anglophiles, more or less, and his audience has never left him.

You might think he’d be lukewarm to Americans in person: we are a sure but limited concern. Instead he was manic, shuttling around the stage to change guitars, spit, mop his head or take a few pulls on a cigarette, which he repeatedly threw on the floor before his sung verses and snatched up again during someone else’s solo.

His energy on Wednesday, the concision of his band and his strong, exact guitar playing helped make up for the fact that a lot of the songs in the set — many of the best he has written since the early ’90s — carried creaky rock clich├ęs, comforting and authentic ’60s chord changes or grooves or song structures. They sounded, to use that withering phrase, well crafted.

Mr. Weller’s new record, “22 Dreams” (Yep Roc), breaks his pattern, at one level casting around into folk and jazz and experimental electronic music — all modeled on ’60s precedents — and at another pushing into electric-guitar feedback and slower, deeper rock grooves. The show included the album’s new single, “Echoes Round the Sun,” leaking with guitar noise, and its title track, which uncomfortably echoes the Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).” But it didn’t go off into the trancelike or weird new stuff, the putative tributes to Pentangle and Alice Coltrane and the abstract improvising collective AMM.

And that’s really too bad, because this was an audience so loyal it deserved to be tested. By the time Mr. Weller finally got around to his Jam hits, in two encores — “That’s Entertainment” and “The Eton Rifles,” with Kelly Jones of Stereophonics joining the band on guitar and vocals — nearly the whole theater sang along lustily. Mr. Weller is an expert rock star: rather than bathe in self-congratulation, he gave the audience a stiff nod.

"Shout To The Top" Courtesy Of TCB Walsh

"The Butterfly Collector" Courtesy Of TCB Walsh


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Steve White On The Passing of John Weller...

It wasn't unexpected to get the news that John Weller had passed away , it was a beautiful sunny morning in fact , but the news still stung even though the anticipation existed .

I finished work today , a day peppered by texts and calls , I missed the call that mattered but made ammends and spoke to the one person I needed to speak to , I raised a glass at dinner and reminisced with my beautiful partner of days of travel and nights of glory that followed , and after a little to much wine the drowsiness lifted and the harsh reality that someone very special had passed hit me , I wanted to say that , with my emotions bubbling very much to the surface , I wanted to remember those decades and shows and nights that we all spent together , indestructible , laughing and making the music of our dreams , wide eyed vagabonds not quite believing .

I remember the day on arriving back from Sydney, John telling me it was all over and he had enough of "this lark" , that was 24 odd years …

John Weller Obituary From The Independent...

For thirty years, John Weller managed the career of his son Paul, through the salad days and success of The Jam in the Seventies and early Eighties, the ups and downs of The Style Council and Paul’s re-emergence as a solo artist in the Nineties. Theirs was a unique father-son relationship in the music industry, built on John’s unwavering belief in Paul’s talent and shared values like hard work and pragmatism.

John could be blunt, and once refused to have lunch in a record company’s executive dining room, remarking to the managing director: “I didn’t come here to eat, I came to do business.” But his bark was worse than his bite.

John’s success was all the more remarkable since he started in his forties after years working in factories, on building sites and driving a taxi. When The Jam signed to Polydor in February 1977, for a £6,000 advance and a six per cent royalty rate, John admitted he didn’t have a bank account and asked for cash instead of a cheque. A&R man Chris Parry duly we…

Paul Weller's Son, Natt Gives A Candid Taxi Interview

Where else to meet the musician son of the agelessly groovy Modfather but at London’s trendy Met Bar? And there’s more than a hint of moody Mod style about the Japanese parka that Paul Weller’s eldest child Natt has slung over his Vivienne Westwood top.

Yet there all similarity ends, for singer-guitarist Natt has inherited the exotic beauty of his mother – former Wham! and Style Council backing singer Dee C Lee – rather than the famously angular features of his father.

‘Everybody always goes, “Luckily he took after his mum…”’ laughs Natt, whose mother is from France and St Lucia and whose great-great grandma was Japanese. Hence Natt’s fascination for Japan, where he moved in 2006 for a year to learn the language.

To pay for his studies, he modelled and deejayed, ‘I felt like an outsized monster,’ confides Natt, 21, a 6ft 1in beanpole. He returned a fan of Japan’s popular culture – from manga cartoons to punk-goth music – and with a different spelling to his name, which now features two ‘…