Paul Weller @ Highline Ballroom, New York, 09/11/08

the Modfather

the Modfather

Shown this photograph, 80-year-old Mrs. Lola C. of Queens remarked, “Bring him home and I don’t need to turn on the oven.”

Lola’s daughter Flora was informing Mrs. C of last night’s destination, the Paul Weller show at the Highline Ballroom. O yes, Weller is hot.

Last night he played a smokin’ 2-hour set, with a youthful Seth Rogen lookalike on drums; a tiny, manaically talented control freak on guitar; and a giant nicotine monkey on his back.  (Mr. Weller stopped several times to feverishly light a fag and inhale like his lungs were gonna fall out if he didn’t.) Ah, the Brits. . . .

the Wellerfellas

the Wellerfellas

He’s apparently been thru the Reanimator, as he barely resembles the self that formed the Jam, then Style Council. The reinvented Modfather now owns a rabid fan base and a successful solo career, as well as one of the Worst. Haircuts. Ever.

bad hair forever

[pics courtesy Brooklyn Vegan, Kyle Dean Reiford]

Paul went on about 9:35pm, after a delightful set by the Rifles – a peppy, indie-rock Brit band well worth checking out at the Mercury on Friday in NYC – and played til 11:30, w/two encores, the first of which included his massive hit, “That’s Entertainment,” but no “Town Called Malice,” alas. The cozy Highline which holds a few hundred, was packed, with a mainly 40-something crowd.

Most recognized the material from Weller’s post-1995 solo career, which started off, pretty much with Stanley Road, followed by, among others, As Is Now, Illuminations, and the current album, 22 Dreams.

I LOVED it. Flora C. and I were’t prepared for how heavy the guitars were – there were some searing long solos in there, really hardcore stuff. He hit the title track from the brand-new 22 Dreams, early on, sat down at the keyboards finally for bit from Stanley Road, but it was the jaw-dropping guitar rock on “All I Want to Do,” “Sea Spray,” and “Come on Let’s Go,” in particular that stood out.

Yes, Liam and Noel Gallagher, and Gem were there. Liam jumped on stage, mutter-shouted something somewhat unintelligable, Noel looked cool and furtive in the audience, and Gem deigned to join on one song for guitar. Minor diversions. Oasis are such professional a-holes, tho’ they boosted Weller’s career immeasurably in the late 90s.

Weller’s always interspersed his solo albums with live ones, and I own no live ones. The studio albums are so much more introspective –opposite energy to the live show, for which I was totally unprepared. He really rocked out on a lot of stuff – almost ’70s style hardrock solos and jams.

And oh, jeez, despite his sculpted cheekbones and still fine physique, his hair is SO bad. Still he’s so much fun to watch. (I kept mentally giving him new, better hairstyles in my mind as the night progressed – lol) Weller got ever more intense and twitchy as the night went on, lighting cig after cig, angrily gesturing to roadies constantly re: bringing his mic up, etc. doing funny little rocker head moves and dance flails– he’s a little kooky and cranky, I’d say, but brilliant.

And damn does he smoke! There was an odd “space”-like drum solo at one point, when Weller stepped to the side, lit and inhaled a HUGE nicotine drag, and nodded and bopped a bit as the drummer whaled about on the set. About three chain-smoked fags later, a roadie removed the fourth burning cigarette from a corner of the piano, and Weller turned around, looked for it, and then mock/seriously/angrily arced a cup of coke or beer across the stage into the audience. There’s some major scary energy there, but damn, did it work in concert.

And that incredible voice. Nope, don’t need to turn on the oven for the heat, Mrs. C. I’m with ya on that one.