Paul Weller didn’t really have an excuse for not coming back to Vancouver in 22 years, but whatever, he apologized. “I just didn’t get around to it,” he shrugged to the Commodore Ballroom. And everyone forgave him because… THE JAM.
On the face of it, it was remarkable to hear Weller again live. The buttery, bluesy, bolshy voice of your Mod Compilation Cassette (TM) dreams in front of you, elegant and rocking? Wonderful. Double drums, sidemen in suits, effortlessly looking the shit on stage and propulsively pushing forth the white-haired maestro as he scrunched up his face Iggy-style and wound around the guitar. Perfect!
The setlist? 24 tracks! Two encores! Well, this is what the crowd-of-a-certain-age wanted, no? Gah to hear “Start!”, “In the Crowd” and “Boy About Town”!? In my mind I was polishing up my Vespa mirrors and slapping a RAF roundel on my parka. So good was it that we even allowed him to fuck up and abandon (promising to return to it later but never doing so) “Man About Town”, because he ended the whole long night with “Town Called Malice” and really, could there be anything better?
In that final 2:52minutes, I’d have argued no, but in the hour previous I may have debated.
The Style Council track “My Ever Changing Moods” (oooh and “Long Hot Summer” in the encore!), then the silky ”You Do Something To Me” were both lush. The rollicking stuff off of new platter Saturns Pattern, “White Suit” and “Long Time Gone” mixed in with an early Weller solo “Peacock Suit” at the start of the gig all chugged majestically à la the Stooges if they’d spent more time kipping on someone’s floor in London back then.
But after that? I’d be lying if I didn’t think I was watching the director’s cut of a good film that in this case actually needed the editor. Weller was in moments magnetic, but a third of the way through, a bit deflated. A rambling jam at the end of “Saturns Pattern” was fatty – “He could have played three ‘In the City’s’”, a friend proclaimed, slightly narked off. Around “Friday Street”, “Porcelain Gods” and “Above the Clouds” I found myself willing Malice to just hurry and present itself. But maybe that’s just crotchety impatience. Sitting back and hearing that voice, thinking about my early ska years and mod aspirations, was enough. Weller’s earned the right to noodle. He’s the Modfather, after all. \m/
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