Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wellah in NYC

Forget 300 bucks, I'd sell (or seriously consider selling) my soul for tickets.

Paul Weller

Yesterday marked the beginning of what might unofficially be called Paul Weller week here in New York City. The legendary Jam and Style Council frontman (and bona fide personal hero/role model to many) began his three-day invasion of the City via an absurdly anticipated performance last night at Irving Plaza. Outside, tickets were apparently changing hands for $300-$400 and inside a collection of rowdy British expats and thuggish Jerseyites in ill-fitting leather jackets lost their collective minds as Weller played one Jam hit after another. During “That’s Entertainment” we came very close to witnessing a room full of drunk, grown men sobbing.

Tonight Weller will reportedly change the set list to focus more on Style Council material, and Wednesday he will perform rock from his entire career. That final show will most likely reflect the feel of Weller’s new album Hit Parade, which features a well-balanced sampling of the Modfather’s best material. Classic Jam anthems like “Town Called Malice” and “Going Underground” sound as magnificent and brave as ever next to the elegant, clever piano and string pop of Weller’s Style Council years. And then there’s the solo stuff. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the solo inclusions from Hit Parade sound as good as they do. Weller has long been perceived as more than the frontman for one of the most important rock bands ever (as if that weren’t enough) but also as a formidable solo artist and songwriter, and on Hit Parade he reminds us why he’s so worshiped. Tracks like “The Changing Man” and the explosive, confrontational “Come On/Let’s Go,” sound vital and prescient, like he’s a free, wise sage and we’re the lucky disciples.

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