Paul Weller Fires Up New Tunes in Boston!
The Modfather treats fans with obscurities, B-sides, and hits from across his vast catalogue.
By Brian E. King 09.10.08 2:48 PM (Spin Magazine)
In a packed sea of Berklee College of Music students, ponytail adorning hipsters, and homesick Brits, the legendary Jam and Style Council leader Paul Weller took to playing amped-up versions of old favorites while mostly drawing from his recent SPIN-approved release, 22 Dreams, last night in Boston.
Weller, ever the elder rock statesman, strutted around the stage with his now silver, rooster-like mullet with the cocky energy of someone half his age. Without much chitchat, the Modfather shredded through classics like “From The Floorboards Up” and “Wild Wood,” looking both sincere and sinister while lighting up multiple cigarettes on stage amidst a shadowy backdrop of purple lights. Doesn’t he know Boston’s strict non-smoking laws?!
After a blistering 14-song rundown, Weller and his crack four-piece band brought out the acoustic guitars for a brief and mellow set, including the medieval stomp of “All On A Misty Morning” and the impressive harmonies of “Brand New Start.”
Eventually, the group turned on the electricity once again for more jammy Britpop, with Weller opting for lesser known new songs and obscurities like “Picking Up Sticks” from 2000’s Heliocentric. At the end of the 20-plus-song set, Weller, always a badass, deserved the multiple standing ovations he received. Gallagher brothers, eat your hearts out.
Paul Weller’s good night produces sweet ‘Dreams’
The Boston Herald
In Europe, the name Weller inspires the kind of awe that Springsteen invokes here.
But the same guy who fills Hyde Park with ecstatic Londoners can barely sell out small halls in the United States: Paul Weller’s show at Berklee Performance Center on Tuesday wasn’t quite sold out, despite the almost universally positive response to his expansive new CD, “22 Dreams.”
Weller didn’t let the less-than-capacity crowd – or a slight guitar malfunction – stop him from spiritedly plowing forward through the opener, “Out of the Sinking.” And judging by the way he grit his teeth while tearing into “From the Floorboards Up,” he came to rock – and hard.
With the assistance of a mighty tight four-piece band, he did just that. By accentuating the psychedelic elements strewn throughout his catalog via liberal use of organ (played by Andy Crofts) and heaps of fuzz-guitar (from Steve Cradock), a set pulled from far and wide came together seamlessly.
The delightful new soul stomp “Sea Spray” stood up well against a reworked version of the Style Council’s “Speak like a Child.” The dreamy piano-jazz meditation “Invisible” sounded perfectly natural mixed in with “Picking Up Sticks” (from 2000’s “Heliocentric”) and a passionate cover of Rose Royce’s “Wishing on a Star.”
Two-thirds through, Crofts and drummer Steve Pilgrim joined Weller and Cradock on guitar for a hair-raising acoustic mini-set, which also included Andy Lewis’ gently plugged-in electric bass. Selections included a sinister “Butterfly Collector,” a number by Weller’s most famous band, the Jam, and an “All on a Misty Morning” driven by astonishingly precise harmonies.
A dub-reggae beat detracted from the inherent mossy beauty in “Wild Wood,” perhaps Weller’s most revered solo composition. But overall, he just improves with age. Despite claims to the contrary, hearing the new songs mixed with the old made apparent that “22 Dreams” isn’t that different from what the 50-year-old Weller has been up to all along. But if thinking it’s a departure fuels the fire and keeps him delivering performances like this, let the Modfather believe whatever he wants.
Openers the Rifles could be named Raised on Weller. Still, the UK quartet delivered its derivative post-punk with admirable urgency and pop smarts.
PAUL WELLER, with THE RIFLES at Berklee Performance Center, Tuesday night.
Energetic Weller, There’s No Room For Nostalgia!
By Marc Hirsh, Globe Correspondent September 11, 2008
Paul Weller is a megastar in his native England, thanks to a decades-long career leading the Jam and the Style Council and as a solo artist. But one of the selfish pleasures of his failure to achieve similar American success is that you can catch him in venues as cozy as the Berklee Performance Center. That much was to be expected from his show on Tuesday.
More surprising was the very clear message that Weller is no dinosaur act. “We don’t do requests,” he declared, but anyone who was paying attention already knew that this wasn’t a nostalgia seeker’s show. (Luckily, it wasn’t a nostalgia-seeking audience.) The Buzzcocks might make some noise from time to time, but Weller is really the last man standing from punk’s class of ’77, with his well-received new album, “22 Dreams,” the latest entry in a still-vital career.
In a wry move perhaps appreciated only by crew members and obsessive note-takers, the nearly two-hour performance consisted of 22 songs, giving Weller ample opportunity to cover a wide swath of pop and rock styles. “Shadow of the Sun” and “All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)” were essentially soul numbers dolled up with louder guitars, while “Sea Spray” and “Have You Made Up Your Mind?” took their cues from late-’60s Motown.
Weller also kept returning to psychedelia, with feedback, icy keyboards, and echoing vocals driving the codas to “Shadow of the Sun,” “Porcelain Gods,” and “Picking Up Sticks” (which even made room for a solo for drummer Steve Pilgrim). But he also dipped into the “Blonde on Blonde”-style pop of “Speak Like a Child,” the smoky torchiness of “Invisible,” and the English folk of “The Butterfly Collector,” where Weller sang from a stool while more or less playing his cigarette like an instrument.
Regardless of his ever-changing moods (and despite a microphone that reduced much of his singing to mush), Weller remained nothing less than fully engaged and energetic, even as he led an ominous version of “Wild Wood” that, with its bass and drums given the deep-atmosphere treatment usually reserved for dub, could have sprung from Massive Attack.
Perhaps more telling was the way he threw himself into the closing “Town Called Malice” with more fervor than is usually expected for a song someone’s been performing for a quarter-of-a-century. The audience took over the chorus chants for itself, as Weller was too busy throwing himself around the stage.
From The Boston Globe.