The Modfather at Midlife

Paul Weller at the Best Buy Theater
May 18, 2012

Weller in Belgium, 2009
Photo by Marcelo Costa

The Modfather took the stage clad in a double vent, charcoal grey suit, white shirt and royal blue cravat tied in a 1970s-Roger-Moore-as James-Bond oversized knot.  If it weren’t for the Telecaster and the Rod Stewart hair (well, if Rod Stewart’s hair was completely gray) one might mistake him for a banker rather than a rock star. Paul Weller, ever the fashion plate, may be the only rocker committed to the sartorial as well as the musical.

Last week Weller played 2 nights in  New York on one of his sporadic visits to North America. Tour really isn’t the right word since he tends to appear in a handful of cities and quickly decamp for Albion. For many years my Spring peregrinations have kept me and Weller apart but this year the scheduling Gods allowed me to catch up with my Modish near-contemporary.

Was it worth the wait? The answer is a qualified yes. But those qualifications are key. Weller is supporting a new album, Sonic Kicks, and the long set (30 plus songs and 2 plus hours–you certainly got your money’s worth) is divided in to three parts. The first showcases songs from the new album including the single, “Klang Klang.” I have this sneaking suspicion that Weller grew up listening to more than rock n roll based mostly on these lyrical games he plays. Almost twenty years ago, on 1993’s Wild Wood, he referenced Cole Porter with “the lonely traffic’s boom.” This time it’s Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s Academy Award-nominated  “The Trolley Song.”

To be fair–and I don’t think this is just a familiarity issue–the new songs were the weaker part of the show. Weller is famously proud Continue reading


(Tales from) The Riverbank

Writing about music, it strikes me, is like painting about health. Why? Because in both cases it’s about rendering an internal state in a mode that one hopes is accessible to others. Quite often the attempt fails.

But at AHC we were never supposed to be just about the foibles, self-serving and otherwise, of the elites. We were supposed to be about the things that feed the mind and soul: books and music. All else is ego. We’ve done books but I’ve resisted music. Let’s try.

What prompts me is a shuffle moment–one of those times when the right song comes up at random and you have to rethink your relationship to it. Yesterday it was a song by Paul Weller and The Jam. (I’m sparing you the Continue reading