Thursday, September 11, 2014

Concert Review: Paul Weller at the Varsity Theater

Paul Weller at the Varsity, September 10, 2014. Note the Magical Mystery Tour inspired bass drum head. (Photo by Pondie N. Taylor.)

I was this close to Paul Weller! It was awesome. (Photo by Pondie N. Taylor.)
I saw Paul Weller tonight at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. He put on an amazing show! I’m a huge fan of Paul Weller’s music, from The Jam to The Style Council to his amazing solo work. He’s one of the major singer-songwriters of the last 35 years, but since he hardly ever tours in the United States, I didn’t have high hopes of ever seeing him live. But for whatever reason, he decided to make Minneapolis one of the 6 North American stops on his tour this year. I’m very glad he did, because it was a terrific show. Weller is an extremely energetic performer, often jumping up and down during the count-in for songs. He’s fun to watch on stage, and he really puts a lot of energy into his songs. 

Weller’s band is excellent, featuring the amazing Steve Cradock on lead guitar. Cradock’s solos were beautifully constructed, and fun to listen to without becoming self-indulgent. Weller was also supported by Andy Lewis on bass, Ben Gordelier on percussion, Steve Pilgrim on drums, and Andy Crofts on keyboards. They all provided able support for Weller’s fantastic songs. You could tell that Weller really enjoys the musicians he plays with, as he traded glances with Cradock throughout the show. Sometimes Weller would get a look on his face like a pleased papa when other members soloed. Weller switched between several different guitars during the concert, using an acoustic, two different Gibsons, and two different Telecasters. He also played the keyboards for some songs, like “You Do Something To Me.” 

The set list was mainly made up of songs from Weller’s solo albums from the last 20 years. I was rather proud that a lot of the songs he played are on my “Best of Paul Weller” mix CD’s. (You can find those posts here and here.) He sang just one song from the Style Council years, “My Ever Changing Moods,” and just two songs from The Jam, “Start!” and “Town Called Malice,” which closed the show. It was clear from the audience reaction that he could have played many more songs from those bands. But, as Weller said, in one of the few times he spoke to the audience, “Some of these songs you’ll know, some of them you won’t.” Some of the highlights of the show for me were the first few songs, which are some of my favorite Weller songs. Hearing him start off with killer tracks like “Sunflower,” “From the Floorboards Up,” “Wake Up the Nation,” and “Come On/Let’s Go,” I knew this would be a memorable show. It’s fun to hear a veteran artist like Weller still take such a delight in rocking out. Other highlights for me were “Above the Clouds,” “Going Places,” and of course the two Jam songs, the excellent “Start!” and the effervescent “Town Called Malice.” Weller seemed really thrilled by the overwhelming audience response to his music, and he said something towards the end of the show about not waiting so long to come back here again. I can only hope that’s true, I would go see Paul Weller again any day.

Set list:
From the Floorboards Up
Wake Up the Nation
Fast Cars/Slow Traffic
Come On/Let’s Go
Sea Spray
My Ever Changing Moods
Above the Clouds
Foot of the Mountain
Going Places
Friday Street
7 & 3 is the Striker’s Name
The Attic
You Do Something to Me
Broken Stones
Porcelain Gods
Peacock Suit

Out of the Sinking
Be Happy Children

2nd encore:
The Changingman
Town Called Malice


HSB DaveB. said...

Thanks for the great review. The other musicians plating with Weller are:

Andy Lewis - Bass
Ben Gordelier - Percussion
Steve Pilgrim - Drums
Andy Crofts - Keyboards

Peace and SOUL...

Uncle E said...

Nice review, as always. Interesting set list, big focus on his later stuff. Wouldn't be my choices, but nothing this guy does disappoints me.

Mark said...

Dave B., thanks for letting me know who's in Weller's band. I'll add that to my review. They were all excellent.

Thanks E! The concert was definitely weighted towards his more recent stuff. I really dig his recent stuff, so that was fine with me. That being said, I wouldn't have objected if he had played more Jam tunes.