The best of British in 2015

Paul Weller’s year in 2015 included a well-received solo album and tour as well as a London exhibition, a film, a live CD box set, and books about his former band, The Jam. (Photo by Julian Broad)

Paul Weller’s year in 2015 included a well-received solo album and tour as well as a London exhibition, a film, a live CD box set, and books about his former band, The Jam. (Photo by Julian Broad)

By John Curley

 

Paul Weller had a big year in 2015. He released a solo album, Saturns Pattern, and toured extensively. A photo book, Into Tomorrow, that details Weller’s solo years with his words and photos by Lawrence Watson, was released in both limited-edition print form and as an iBook that also features video interviews with Weller and Watson. And a film documenting a year on the road by Weller’s band was shot by Weller’s keyboardist Andy Crofts. The film is titled ONE and can be viewed on YouTube.

My review of Weller’s June 12, 2015 show at New York City’s Terminal 5 can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/paul-weller-plays-blistering-set-sweltering-nyc-night.

Andy Crofts’ ONE film about Weller and his band on the road can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvUscH3MmBU.

In addition to Weller having a great year with his solo work, one of his former bands, The Jam, were celebrated in several vital ways. A very successful exhibition on the band, called About The Young Idea, was held at London’s Somerset House and ran from late June until September, being extended an extra month due to popular demand. A book that coincided with the exhibition, titled Growing Up With…The Jam, was published and featured comments on The Jam from fans, journalists, and fellow musicians as well as many terrific photos of the band. The director Bob Smeaton put together a terrific documentary on The Jam, which was also titled About The Young Idea. The film aired on Showtime in the United States and Sky Arts in the UK. A six-CD box set titled Fire And Skill of complete live concerts by The Jam, one each from the years 1977 to 1982, was released in late October. And The Jam’s drummer, Rick Buckler, released a memoir, written with Ian Snowball, titled That’s Entertainment: My Life In The Jam.

My Q&A with Nicky Weller, Paul’s sister and one of the co-curators of the About The Young Idea exhibition at London’s Somerset House, can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/article/jam-celebrated-exhibition-londons-somerset-house.

My review of That’s Entertainment: My Life In The Jam by Rick Buckler and Ian Snowball, can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/rick-butlers-memoir-must-read-fans-jam.

Blur also had quite a year in 2015, releasing their first album, The Magic Whip, in over a decade and playing their biggest-ever headlining shows in America at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York City. In addition, a documentary about Blur’s reformation, titled New World Towers, premiered in the UK in early December.

My review of Blur’s October 23, 2015 show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/blur-throw-raucous-garden-party-nyc.

The trailer for Blur’s New World Towers film can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGc8d-WDvm4.

While dodging the seemingly relentless rumors of an Oasis reunion, Noel Gallagher released a terrific second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, in 2015, toured extensively, and, always very quotable, gave many interviews that were both interesting and quite funny.

My review of Noel Gallagher’s show on May 7, 2015 at Webster Hall in New York City can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/noel-gallagher-flies-high-nycs-webster-hall.

The Who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015 with The Who Hits 50 tour. Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and company hit the road, playing a greatest-hits set at shows in Europe and North America. A double-CD set and DVD film of their June show at London’s Hyde Park was released in the autumn under the title The Who Live In Hyde Park. The concert film aired on Showtime in the United States. Unfortunately, an illness to Daltrey caused the postponement of North American concert dates in the autumn. Those shows were rescheduled for Spring 2016.

My review of The Who’s show on May 24, 2015 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/joan-jett-rock-mohegan-sun-arena.

My review of The Who Live In Hyde Park can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/whos-hyde-park-film-features-terrific-show-idyllic-london-setting.

In addition to his work in 2015 with The Who, Townshend also released Classic Quadrophenia, a reworking of The Who’s landmark 1973 rock opera that used classical instrumentation and featured the British tenor Alfie Boe on lead vocals. Classic Quadrophenia received its live premiere in July at London’s Royal Albert Hall. That performance is now available on DVD under the title Classic Quadrophenia: Live From The Royal Albert Hall.

My review of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia album can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/classic-quadrophenia-great-deal-offer.

A video trailer for the Classic Quadrophenia album can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKZ4ZyTbqio.

A video trailer for Classic Quadrophenia: Live From The Royal Albert Hall can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGX9XB-nOvw.

A standout among the music films released in 2015, director Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy chronicled the rise and fall of the British singer Amy Winehouse. Very effectively using home video, mobile-phone video, interviews, and studio and concert footage, Kapadia provides a vivid and at times heartbreaking look at Winehouse’s career and private life.

My review of Amy can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/amy-film-provides-riveting-heartbreaking-portrait-amy-winehouse.

The trailer for Amy can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za3lZcrzzcM.

Another outstanding music film that was released in 2015 was Roger Waters The Wall. Directed by Waters and Sean Evans, the film alternates between performances from the massive tour that Waters did for his version of The Wall and filmed vignettes. The film packs an emotional wallop and provides an incredible chronicle of The Wall shows.

My review of Roger Waters The Wall can be read at http://www.goldminemag.com/reviews/roger-waters-wall-concert-film-packs-emotional-wallop.

The trailer for Roger Waters The Wall can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuPyeCX7Fgg.

I would be remiss in discussing the year in British music in 2015 if I failed to mention the incredible success of Adele’s 25 album. The album broke sales records, which is quite amazing in this age of single-song digital downloads. Adele promoted the album with appearances on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She also performed her first concert in four years at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The concert was recorded and excerpts for the show were aired in an NBC special titled Adele Live In New York City. Adele will be undertaking her most extensive concert tour to date in 2016.

In addition to Adele’s tour, 2016 will also see live shows from The Stone Roses as well as the return of PJ Harvey. Harvey’s first album in five years is due in Spring 2016. Harvey recorded the album in front of an ever-changing audience as part of an exhibit at London’s Somerset House. A preview of Harvey’s album can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3swyAHvswE8.

Blur had a spectacular 2015 that included the release of a new album, The Magic Whip, critically lauded live performances, and the release of a documentary film about the band’s reformation. (Photo ©Linda Brownlee)

Blur had a spectacular 2015 that included the release of a new album, The Magic Whip, critically lauded live performances, and the release of a documentary film about the band’s reformation. (Photo ©Linda Brownlee)

 

 

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