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From The OC Register:
Paul Weller’s Greek Theatre show had only been underway a short time when he arrived at the snappy, new retro-leaning ditty “That Dangerous Age.” The lyrical protagonist goes through a midlife crisis, but this legendary rocker sure didn’t sing it from recent personal experience.
Back home in England, Weller is nearly as popular now at 54 as he was fronting the trailblazing punk/R&B trio the Jam at 24. Headlining large venues and festivals is still the norm there, and all his solo albums have gone Top 10. The strong current one, Sonik Kicks, came out last spring and entered the U.K. charts at No. 1. Noel Gallagher, Blur’s Graham Coxon, the High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan are among those who assisted in the studio.
Unquestionably, the past few years have seen the Modfather (as Weller is affectionately known) craft some of the most adventurous and compelling music of his lengthy career. Here in America, the singer/guitarist remains a revered cult figure among a brilliant talent roster at North Carolina-based independent label Yep Roc Records.
Initial dates supporting Sonik Kicks included an entire run through the new collection. Nowadays Weller leans toward doing quick concert blitzes through select North American cities, and Los Angeles was the only proper West Coast stop in 2012. The Greek didn’t come close to being sold out Friday night, yet it was still his biggest Southern California appearance in 20 years, when he last headlined at the Griffith Park venue.
Clad in a black blazer, T-shirt and gray pants, Weller and his five-piece band kicked off the 1 hour, 45-minute set with a surprise: “My Ever Changing Moods.” The smooth 1984 song, recorded with the Style Council, is his best-known career hit stateside, reaching No. 29 on Billboard’s Hot 100. That immediately got the crowd excited; a fierce take on the Jam’s “Running on the Spot” did even more so.
“When Your Garden’s Overgrown,” one of six tracks served up from Sonik Kicks, surmises what Syd Barrett might have done had he never joined Pink Floyd. Longtime guitarist Steve Craddock (also of English group Ocean Colour Scene) supplied squelching effects amid some rattling percussion.
“This is from way back in the last century,” Weller said before dusting off “Just Who Is the 5 O’Clock Hero?,” another choice nugget from 1982’s The Gift, source of a signature Jam song not played this night (“Town Called Malice”) and recently the subject of a deluxe 30th anniversary reissue in the U.K. Andy Crofts’ organ solos brought that piece to a new level, and it was followed by the mellow soul vibe of the Style Council’s “The Cost of Loving” and another Gift gem, a spiky rendition of “Carnation.”
One of the evening’s many standouts came via the epic, trippy rock of a revamped “Foot of the Mountain,” where amazing wah-wah fretwork from Craddock (which Weller later joined) resulted in a plenty of loud cheers.
Weller handled keys on the Style Council’s watery chill-out ballad “Long Hot Summer” and the psychedelic new “Dragonfly,” with lyrics by his young daughter Jessie. His passionate vocal on the ballad “You Do Something to Me” was gorgeous as ever, and the same held true for “Moon on Your Pyjamas” (a languid slow-burner about one of his sons, from 1993′s Wild Wood) and the sleek “Above the Clouds” (from his 1992 solo debut)
The “Taxman”-esque groove of the Jam’s “Start!” was lean and mean – a real crowd-pleaser. The frenetic “Kling I Klang,” inspired by Krautrock act Neu!, and the Style Council’s vibrant “Shout to the Top!” (here with an Aztec Camera-style acoustic guitar shuffle from Craddock, plus reverb-laden vocals from the star) elevated the intensity level several notches.
Entering the home stretch, Weller suddenly seemed agitated by the Greek’s 10:30 p.m curfew. A high-energy “Strange Town” sounded sharp, the audience clapping along amid dual guitar runs from Craddock and his boss. The dark, almost gothic “Around the Lake” featured spooky vocal effects and an intense guitar workout to finish the main set. Finally, the tender “Broken Stones,” with Weller back on keyboards, and the wicked late-’60s psychedelic undertones of “The Changingman” ended the night on a high note.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings formed a decade ago in Brooklyn, helped popularize a classic R&B revival in the 2000s and soon became in-demand studio/live players for the likes of Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Al Green, Rufus Wainwright and others. Two of their albums have sold more than 100,000 copies each.
The tight 10-piece group, complete with horn section and two backing vocalists, performed a 45-minute warm-up set in L.A. that was a revelation for newcomers. Jones totally commanded the stage and reveled in the music, dancing up a storm, kicking her legs into the air and letting loose soulful wails like Tina Turner, although at times she could be subtle, recalling Irma Thomas.
Among the sizzling highlights were a pair of tunes from 2010’s I Learned the Hard Way: “Without a Heart,” for which Jones invited a portly older male fan onstage to humorously gyrate alongside her, and the conga-driven “She Ain’t a Child No More.” Also sharp: the feisty “New Shoes” (allowing her to “walk right out that door”) and a slinky cover of the early Gladys Knight tune “Giving Up.”
An extended closing number saw Jones take “everyone back to 1965″ where she demonstrated various popular dances of the era (the Boogaloo, the Jerk, the Pony, Camel Walk, Tighten Up, Peppermint Twist). It was like a cross between the old T.A.M.I. Show and Soul Train.