Last night Paul Weller played at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. Weller is one of my favorite musicians, and I’ve seen him live once before, at the Varsity Theater in 2014. (I reviewed that show here.) Weller put on an excellent show last night, working with a crack band, led by longtime Weller sideman Steve Cradock, who traded lead guitar duties with Weller all night long.
Weller played several songs from his latest album, A Kind Revolution, which came out in May of 2017. He played the catchy “Woo Se Mama,” which he played keyboards on, the Bowie-esque tune “Nova,” the yearning ballad “The Cranes Are Back,” and the moody “Hopper,” a song about the painted Edward Hopper.
Although Weller only played one song from his years with The Jam, the excellent “Start!” he did play a few songs from his Style Council days, “My Ever Changing Moods,” “Shout to the Top” and “Have You Ever Had it Blue.” All of these songs had the crowd on their feet, rocking and rolling. If Paul Weller wanted to, he could easily have played all songs from The Jam and Style Council years, mixed in a couple of more recent songs, and people would have been thrilled. But Weller’s never been one to take the easy road. Ever since he broke up The Jam at the height of their popularity in late 1982, Weller has charted his own musical course. It hasn’t always been an easy journey, but Weller has made many superb solo albums and created a formidable discography, full of fascinating music.
Weller also played some of his more recent solo songs. I especially enjoyed “From the Floorboards Up,” a charging rocker from his great 2005 solo album As Is Now, and the jazzy “Above the Clouds,” from his 1992 self-titled solo debut. “Above the Clouds” is a great song, and it also has something of a special place in my life, as it’s the default song that my phone plays in the car when it can’t remember what I was last listening to.
The first encore of the evening was a set of acoustic songs, including some brand-new songs like “Gravity.” We’ll have to see if that appears on Weller’s next album. The second encore was more rock and roll, including the great song “Peacock Suit.”
Opening for Weller was the English folk singer-songwriter Lucy Rose, who played a nice half hour set. Overall, it was a superb evening of music with Paul Weller, one of the great rock singers and songwriters of the last forty years.