“The public gets what the public wants. But I want nothing this society’s got, I’m going underground …” For a certain type of music lover—let’s say a British or American kid who rode a Lammy with a dozen mirrors and wore Fred Perry shirts and skintight trousers and took a handful of brightly colored pills that someone said gave you “pep”—Paul Weller was a god. That was me. But I’m different now. And so is Paul Weller.
Mr. Weller’s ever-changing moods experienced their fullest expression after the changing man sacked The Jam and explored a shocking variety of different musical styles, first with The Style Council throughout the ’80s, and then as a solo artist for the last 20 years. Some of those projects fared better than others, commercially and artistically. But Mr. Weller’s integrity and energy never flagged, and one of the most rewarding things for Paul Weller fans has been seeing his influence on newer and younger artists, from singing and strumming on Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” to guest starring on electronica great Dot Allison’s 2009 record Room 7-1/2. Now THAT’s entertainment.
Speaking of which … Could it really be 28 years since a WAY pre-Conan Kevin Dorff took the stage to do solid justice to “That’s Entertainment” at the West End on a Sunday evening mod night while The Slugs backed him? If anyone reading this feels like driving 16 hours, there’s allegedly a reunion of Chicago ’80s era mods at the Tiny Lounge on Sunday, somehow tied into, of all things, a Specials show. No, really. Free Nelson Mandela, indeed! I can’t make it this weekend, but all this walking down mod memory lane has me thinking about ace faces like Craig Ziegler, John Manion and Mark Johnson, whose style could knock you out with a right or a left, and still can.
Meanwhile, for those who will be staying put–neither traveling East to the beach (where a man can feel he’s the only soul in the world that’s real…) nor West to the Windy City, Harlem, USA, is the place to be. Mr. Weller is in town for three nights, but the perfect place to see him is at the Apollo on Thursday night.
Paul Weller, Apollo Theater on Thursday, 253 West 125th Street, (212) 531-5300, 8pm, tickets $30-$59.50; Webster Hall on Friday, 125 East 11th Street, (212) 353-1600, 8pm, tickets $59.50; Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday, 66 North 6th Street, (718) 486-5400, 9pm, $59.50.
(Matthew Ryan opens all three shows.)