Bands: Paul Weller, Matthew Ryan Venue: Royale Date: Sunday, July 28, 2013
I’ve seen shows at the Royale with a decent degree of irregularity since the posh club opened its doors in 2010. No complaints as far as the performances were concerned; King Khan and the Shrines, Deerhunter, The Walkmen – all bigger names that have pleased me nicely over the years. Seeing Paul Weller fits right in there, especially in a standing room only setting like this one.
Kicking off the night was Matthew Ryan – one man with an acoustic guitar. He said it’s not easy being one man with a guitar opening for a legend such as Paul Weller. I agree. I’m not sure many solo performers of Ryan’s variety could do an adequate job of entertaining me in this kind of setting. He did seem to garner some interest, but there were just as many people chitchatting among themselves and ignoring the performance as there were genuinely curious onlookers. His set didn’t do anything for me, but I didn’t expect it to.
Paul Weller – I’m no expert on him, but seeing him a couple of times before this, and listening to his solo albums since I was very young, I’ve grown very appreciative of what he’s done. This was definitely the most fun I’ve had at a Paul Weller show. I would say that this might just be how other attendees feel as well. It may have been years since some of these people have gotten the chance to see Paul up close and personal. Having him and his band (made up of another guitarist, a bassist, an organist, and two drummers) wail away just feet in front of me is something I won’t forget. From this mini-tour’s itinerary, it seems like Paul made it a point to play at smaller sized venues, at least in comparison to the gigantic structures he regularly plays in his native country. As far as what the audience was treated to… about twenty songs from his old Jam days up through his latest Sonic Kicks LP. I was familiar with most of Paul’s set (shout out to setlist.fm for preparation), but the Stanley Road back-to-back of “Whirlpools End” and “The Changingman” is my favorite. Eight hundred 50-somethings chugging $13 mixed drinks may agree with me there. Paul came back for an encore and finished things off with customary Jam hit “Town Called Malice.” We were all pulling for a second encore, but hey that’s alright, we enjoyed a very memorable hour of music.
Paul Weller is at it again. Songwriting that is! He’s been writing loads of great material for more than a quarter of a century and it doesn’t look like the man’s creative juices are drying up any time soon. He’s aiming for an autumn 2011 release for the new LP, which will have 11 songs. A grand ole jaunt around the world is expected in 2012.
Bands: Erland & The Carnival, Paul Weller Venue: Apollo Theater Date: November 6, 2010
Act One – Erland & The Carnival – A very respectable UK folk/post-punk revivalist group. As Erland said, they were simply warming up the stage for Weller. With that said, their set was quite modest in length — not more than thirty minutes — but very effective. They reminded me of a more eclectic/James Bond theme music version of Editors. When they jammed, they jammed. I found myself recognizing a number of their tunes from the video of the gig they posted on their MySpace page.
Act Two – Paul Weller – Over the past several months, I’ve gained much more appreciation for the Modfather. It was a quite a treat to see him perform last night at the historic Apollo Theater. Weller has quite a catalog to choose from in selecting his night’s set-list. Last night, he incorporated a bunch of tunes from 2010’s Wake up the Nation. What made up the rest was a fine variety of relatively recent material, a little bit older stuff, and classic Jam and Style Council tunes. The sound was excellent. The aid of two keyboardists/effects performers and an extra rhythm guy contributed greatly to Weller’s backing. What I love about Weller is when he really rocks out. The drum solo in “One Bright Star” and the pure magic of “All I Wanna Do” were just some of the many highlights. Weller gave off the impression at the end of his second encore that the near sold-out crowd would be back to hear him for a second time in a row the next night. Those people are in for a double dose treat.
1. “Aim High”
2. “Into Tomorrow”
3. “7 to 3 is the Striker’s Name”
4. “Pretty Green”
5. “From the Floorboards Up”
6. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)”
7. “Sea Spray
8. “Paper Chase”
10. “No Tears to Cry”
11. “Shout To The Top”
13. “How Sweet It Is”
14. “One Bright Star”
16. “Fast Car Slow Traffic”
18. “Echoes on the Sun”
19. “Wild Wood
20. “Broken Stones”
21. “Pieces of a Dream”
22. “Wake up the Nation”
23. “Art School”
24. “Come On, Let’s Go”
25. “The Changingman”
26. “Porcelain Gods”
Bands: Fergus & Geronimo, K-Holes, Cerebral Ballzy, Black Lips Venue: The Shank Date: November 6, 2010
Comments on the Venue: Where do I even begin? I just want to clear something up, first. Hipsters, individually, are not necessary bad people. Talking to a few of them and sort of mocking them (“Are shows in a big warehouse the new thing?”), I realized there are some good apples in the bunch. Not so much for the case for the hoi polloi of Williamsburg hipsters. Damn, these people suck so much! As Rich said, they are people with a lot of money, but love to act like they don’t have any. These hipsters wait in long lines for port-a-potties and $4 beer. Making loads of money off of the cheapest brands of beer is suddenly relevant. These people have no respect for the bands and care solely about themselves. Shocker! The venue itself was the complete opposite of the Apollo. I didn’t expect some first-rate DIY “soundspace”, but…this?! Every process after the most basic (checking IDs, buying tickets) was actually pretty laughable. There are shit-loads of people just standing around, smoking whatever they feel like. In front of the stage are hipsters yelling at each other and pushing each other. The stage itself is pretty legit, but the sound system is quite awful.
Act One, Two, and Three – I wasn’t really paying attention much to any of these bands. Fergus & Geronimo sounded really good. I caught the tail end of their set. K-Holes were the same K-Holes I saw in July and August. Cerebral Ballzy sounded not so good, but I couldn’t really hear them all that well from where I was standing.
Act Four – Black Lips – After avoiding the pit area for a while, I made up my mind. I was going to stand in front like I usually do. The moment Black Lips come on, they sound-check jammed to something that sounded like “Stone Cold.” A soft rocker to test out the waters. This was all well and good. They then got the night going with “MIA,” the frantic opener from excellent live album Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo. After that was a new song. After that was “Make It,” “O Katrina,” and another new song. “Make It” and “Katrina” were both listenable and very well played. This was a good thing. It was very down-hill from here. A bunch of idiots stormed the stage after like five minutes and, like on the boat cruise, all the amps became unplugged. Jared’s microphone also fell from its stand multiple times. Some asshole started talking into it all the while Jared thought it was still there. The Lips ad-libbed, while the sound “crew” was trying to fix things, a cover of Elvis’ “He Touched Me.” Parts of “Dirty Hands,” “Ain’t No Deal,” and “Fairy Stories” were played. Keep in mind “parts.” Nothing was complete about the Lips set. I blame it on the “fans”…these self-righteous douche-bags who wanted all the attention. At least the Lips got paid $10,000 to play this shit-show. The second to last song was “Sea of Blasphemy,” which almost was a valiant attempt for them to restart their set…except it was the second-to-last sosng. You know shit has gone wrong when I think “Bad Kids” is “Ghetto Cross” for a complete minute. Damn, son.
Paul Weller Hopes + Expectations: I hope Paul plays an enjoyable set. I can certainly imagine him doing so.
My favorite Weller (solo) songs that I hope he plays:
– “Come On, Let’s Go” – As Is Now – “Savages” – As Is Now
– “Wings of Speed” – Stanley Road – “No Tears Left To Cry” – Wake Up The Nation – “Changing Man” – Stanley Road – “Wild Wood” – Wild Wood – “You Do Something To Me” – Stanley Road – “Mermaids” – Heavy Soul – “Whirlpool’s End” – Stanley Road He’ll probably end up playing a few of the ones that I’ve just mentioned in addition to plenty of new ones from Wake Up The Nation and a couple of Jam classics.
(Black Lips?!) – This is the the toss-up of the century. After the Paul Weller show, will I be able to make it down to Brooklyn to catch my favorite band? Last time I was in NYC and saw Black Lips, it ended up being my favorite show of all time — on a boat and terrestrially. It’s by the grace of God that decided to hold a “secret show” on Saturday. This would be an incredible addition to a trip that is already shaping up to be great.
November 6th and 7th, the Modfather Paul Weller will be in New York City playing shows. One is at the Best Buy (Nokia) Theatre and the one I am going to is at the Apollo in Harlem. I’ve been re-familiarizing myself, coincidentally, with Weller’s solo work so I’m looking forward to this thing.
1. “The Changingman” – A 2. “Porcelain Gods” – A- 3. “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” – B+ 4. “You Do Something To Me” – A+ 5. “Woodcutter’s Son” – B+ 6. “Time Passes” – B+ 7. “Stanley Road” – B+ 8. “Broken Stones” – B 9. “Out of the Sinking” – A- 10. “Pink on White Walls” – B+ 11. “Whirlpool’s End” – A+ 12. “Wings of Speed”- A+
Comments: I consider this the Modfahjah’s serious, yet bittersweet phase. I’ve been listening to these songs on a fairly irregular basis since about the year 2000. Collectively, they’ve never struck me as worthwhile listens… up until very recently. After seeing Weller in a live setting, I realized that the guy isn’t that bad! No, no, even more shockingly…he’s good! Of course, the sound he’s maintained over his solo career is in a faraway land from punk rock or “mod” rock…whatever that was. On this release in particular, Weller is pretty much down for anything. An extended guitar solo here and there, a soft piano-rock unrequited love ballad, an inspirational oldies power-pop number, country sounding tunes, and other goodies. Even the songs that aren’t “great” tend to flow real well with this album as a whole. The core of this album is in “You Do Something to Me,” Weller’s solo magnum opus “Whirlpool’s End,” and, of course, the gospel piano track “Wings of Speed.” I remember listening to “Wings” when I was a wee lad. I hadn’t heard anything like it. Its gospel swagger (which was something I never would have termed it years ago) was captivating. I think I downloaded it on Napster or Kazaa. That’s how much impact it had on me. It’s still such a touching ditty.