Review by John Curley
Photos by Chris M. Junior
Paul Weller’s current tour of North America brought him to New York City’s Irving Plaza for a pair of shows on Monday, October 2nd and Tuesday, October 3rd. Weller’s tour is in support of his 13th solo album, which is titled “A Kind Revolution.” (Editor’s Note: “A Kind Revolution” was reviewed in the July 2017 issue of GOLDMINE.)
The evening of music at the Tuesday, October 3rd show began with a very-well-received 30-minute set by the London-based singer-songwriter Lucy Rose. Rose, who played acoustic guitar and keyboards, was backed by a keyboardist/guitarist/violinist and a bassist for her performance. She told the crowd that her father was in attendance, which drew cheers, and complimented the audience for their enthusiasm after saying that many people at the show the previous night had talked throughout her performance. Rose confided to the crowd that it was a huge deal for her to be asked to support Paul Weller on tour, and she got quite a hand from the packed house at the conclusion of her set.
After an interval of about 40 minutes, Weller’s intro music, which is The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” was played, and the crowd cheered loudly in anticipation of Weller’s arrival to the stage. Weller’s band took up their positions first, and then Weller walked onto the stage to a massive roar. Weller, who played electric and acoustic guitars as well as keyboard during his two-hour show, is being backed on this tour by longtime sidemen Steve Cradock (guitars), Andy Crofts (bass), Steve Pilgrim (drums), and Ben Gordelier (percussion) as well as new recruit Tom Van Heel (keyboards). In addition to working in Weller’s band, Cradock is a member of Britpop stalwarts Ocean Colour Scene and Crofts, Gordelier, and Van Heel are in the UK band The Moons.
Weller and crew began their show with a tight performance of “I’m Where I Should Be” that drew enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. A frenetic take of the brief “Long Time” followed, and it showed how well this band works as a unit. A rocking version of “From The Floorboards Up” was next, and the crowd loved it. The very heavy “White Sky” featured some stellar work by Gordelier and Pilgrim.
One of the benefits of being an artist with an extensive catalog is that it allows for mixing old favorites with new tunes, and Weller used that to his advantage with a soulful version of The Style Council’s “My Ever Changing Moods” that featured some exceptional guitar work by Cradock. Weller moved behind the keyboard for the performance of the title track of his 2015 album “Saturns Pattern” that had the band providing tight backup to Weller’s great vocal performance. Weller remained on keyboard for a terrific “Going My Way” that got a nice reaction from the crowd.
Cradock’s guitar work was featured again during “The Weaver.” Weller played acoustic guitar for a wonderful “Up In Suze’s Room” that had Cradock and Pilgrim providing outstanding performances. That was followed by a fantastic version of The Style Council’s “Shout To The Top!” on which Weller again played acoustic guitar. It received one of the biggest cheers of the night. “Hung Up” again featured Weller on acoustic guitar as well as some fine playing by Cradock.
Weller went back to electric guitar for the extended and somewhat funky “Into Tomorrow.” It was a showcase for the band as a whole, one of the highlights of the show that gave each member a moment in the spotlight. The guitar break that featured some stellar work by Weller and Cradock was a particular favorite of the crowd. And the crowd was very much into the soulful take on “Above The Clouds” that came next, loudly singing the “Ohhhh!” backing vocal bit in unison.
Weller went behind the keyboard once more for an outstanding “You Do Something To Me” for which Cradock contributed some great playing. Weller remained on keyboard for the quite raucous, very energetic, and funky performance of the new song “Woo Sé Mama.” During the song, light was directed at the disco ball on the venue’s ceiling, which led to light reflected from the mirrors spinning all over the room. It was quite effective.
Crofts’ bass provided the backbone for “She Moves With The Fayre” that featured Weller on Telecaster and with an echo effect on his vocal. The crowd gave loud cheers to the performance of “Friday Street” on which the band gave an outstanding performance. An extended “Porcelain Gods” spotlighted Weller’s soulful vocal and tight playing by the band. It had a very heavy ending that elicited roars from the crowd. An intense “Peacock Suit” featured quite demonstrative playing by Weller and Cradock on guitars and Pilgrim on drums. The main set came to an absolutely incendiary conclusion with a ferocious performance of “Whirlpool’s End” on which the audience participated eagerly, voicing the “sha la la” vocal part with a full-throated roar. The crowd continued to cheer loudly as the band left the stage.
After a brief interval, Weller and company returned to the stage with a version of “These City Streets” that had a nice groove and highlighted the work of Van Heel and Cradock. The first song of the night from The Jam made its appearance with an amazing and very tight performance of “Start!” that featured outstanding drumming from Pilgrim. Weller went behind the keyboard and Pilgrim temporarily switched to acoustic guitar for a nice performance of “The Cranes Are Back” that Weller dedicated to those lost on Sunday night in the Las Vegas concert massacre. Weller stayed behind the keyboard for “Broken Stones” on which he gave a nice vocal performance backed by Cradock’s stellar guitar work. The crowd gave a big hand to “Come On/Let’s Go” for which Weller returned to guitar and center stage.
Following another brief break, Weller and the band came back to the stage for a two-song second encore. First up was a rip-roaring take on “The Changingman” that was highlighted by Weller’s and Cradock’s outstanding guitar work. The show came to end with a great version of The Jam’s “Town Called Malice” that featured Crofts’ bass and a terrific effort from the entire band. The crowd sang along loudly with every word and then roared in appreciation as Weller and the band took their bows at the end. It had been one of Weller’s finest performances in New York City to date. At age 59, he hasn’t lost any of his bark or bite.
The North American tour runs through October 27th and concludes with a show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. After a two-month break, Weller and the band will be doing shows in January in Japan and Australia. In February and March, they will be performing in Ireland and the UK. Full tour dates can be found at www.paulweller.com/tour.
Paul Weller’s setlist at Irving Plaza in New York City on Tuesday, October 3rd was as follows:
I’m Where I Should Be
From The Floorboards Up
My Ever Changing Moods (The Style Council song)
Going My Way
Up In Suze’s Room
Shout To The Top! (The Style Council song)
Above The Clouds
You Do Something To Me
Woo Sé Mama
She Moves With The Fayre
These City Streets
Start! (The Jam song)
The Cranes Are Back
Come On/Let’s Go
Town Called Malice (The Jam song)