Launching his hour and forty minute set with “Sunflower” from the album Wildwood, it was immediately clear that it was going to be a night of energy, passion, and intensity when Paul Weller played New York’s Webster Hall (QRO venue review) on Friday, July 26th, in the midst of a three-night, three-venue stopover in the Big Apple. Playing songs from his 30-plus year discography with The Jam, The Style Council, and his solo career ensured that fans had something to sing along to.
The song that had the entire audience participate in was “That’s Entertainment”; Weller has said that he wrote it in ten minutes after “Coming home pissed from the pub”.
At times Weller would windmill like Pete Townshend; at others he just nodded to the band on when to solo and/or end certain songs. His group was very precise, especially guitarist Steve Cradock, who had three separate pedal boards that enabled him to replicate the wide range of sounds from Weller’s albums.
In some ways, Paul Weller is an English version of Bruce Springsteen, with lyrics and observations about British society that articulate what the broader population is feeling. Highlights of the set included “Porcelain Doll”, which included a trippy section, and a powerful “Whirlpool’s End” from Stanley Road.
“Town Called Malice” finished the night off a high note, ensuring that Weller’s die-hard fan base left Webster Hall with smiles on their faces.