Concert Review: Paul Weller, May 21, Sound Academy

Paul Weller

Monday night marked Canada’s celebration of Victoria Day or Fête de la Reine for our Francophone friends (an explanation of the holiday is available here). Considering it was a holiday schedule, going to the dreaded Sound Academy was probably twice as bad as usual. I looked up the 72B bus from Pape Station beforehand and timed my trip out accordingly. When I asked the bus driver from the 72 when the next scheduled bus for the B was, he said “Sorry, there’s no schedule”. There’s no schedule for the transit system despite posted schedules online. I’m beginning to feel like Lisa Simpson on her way to the Isis Exhibit.

Finally the bus shows up and I’m on my way to the worst musical venue in Toronto (try Googling “worst concert venue in toronto“) to see one of the most legendary British acts the 80’s ever produced. Seems like a fair trade-off to me considering this is the only other city Paul Weller chose to visit in North America outside of New York City.

I arrived in the midst of Weller’s opening song from the oft-discussed setlist this tour, “Green”. Look people, the man has a new album. It’s called Sonik Kicks. No, it doesn’t sound anything like the Jam or Style Council, but it’s anything but bad. In fact, I’d say the better parts of the show (as is often the case with performance veterans) came about when he was performing his newest material. I thought “The Attic”, “Paperchase”, many of the acoustic numbers, and “By the Waters” were particularly good. There were some weaker moments, but I would argue this had more to do with the songwriting than any performance issues. I heard numerous comments during this first part of the set about how the show was “gay”. “faggoty”, and how Weller was “baiting us”, which brings to mind my second major observation. If this show was any evidence of reality, Paul Weller’s fans are jerks. Never in my life have I heard more talking, smelled more eggy farting or hamburger burps than at this show.

Sure, the weird instrument he brought onstage was odd, as was the presence of his 25 year old wife/back-up singer during the reggae-infused Study in Blue. Sure, the setlist could’ve been more evenly distributed. But this is PAUL WELLER, his voice hasn’t faded a bit even with his incessant chain-smoking (I counted at least 6 cigarettes he smoked onstage). Most people there paid over $60 to see him, shouldn’t we at least have listened? The older I get the more I realize that listening is an art though–most everyone hears, hardly anyone listens.

I had to change positions five times to get away from all the talking. My search for an obnoxious-free zone came when I stood behind a kindly grey-haired couple. Things picked up a bit once he thanked us for “tolerating” the new stuff and moved onto more familar territory like “Stanley Road”, “Wake Up The Nation”, and “All I Wanna Do”. I’m admittedly far less familiar with his solo catalogue so I actually enjoyed the new stuff a bit more than the rocked out early 90’s and 00’s material, and was probably the only one to feel this way.

There were two Jam songs in the setlist–both encores. Eton Rifles ignited a passionate sing-along after a long 2.5 hour set, and Town Called Malice rounded everything out with a full-on pogo-stick-fest. I kept waiting for a Style Council tune, but did so in vain.

Sonik Kicks
The Attic
Kling I Klang
Sleep of the Serene
By the Waters
That Dangerous Age
Study in Blue
When Your Garden’s Overgrown
Around The Lake
Be Happy Children

15 minute intermission

The Butterfly Collector
(The Jam song)
Out Of The Sinking
Aim High
No Tears To Cry
All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
You Do Something To Me

From The Floorboards Up
22 Dreams
Stanley Road
Foot of the Mountain
Wake Up The Nation
Fast Car/Slow Traffic
Echoes Round The Sun
Whirlpool’s End

Eton Rifles
(The Jam song)
The Changingman
Into Tomorrow

Encore 2:
A Town Called Malice
(The Jam song)

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything

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2 Responses to Concert Review: Paul Weller, May 21, Sound Academy

  1. Mod

    The audience were certainly a distraction – can’t believe how many people were only there for a Jam song. I like that he has a varied catalogue of music and he isn’t just recreating Jam style music for 35+ years. I really enjoyed the gig – he has a great backing band. Pity that a bulk of his fans don’t want to grow musically and are stuck back in 1981.

  2. Allison Lau

    I continue to be flabbergasted by those who refuse to grow with artists (and was I the only one who noticed the large U.K. frat boy contingent?). I won’t deny it would’ve been great to hear “You’re The Best Thing”, but I can understand how he’d be tired of playing it after a couple of decades. The Attic is a really good tune and I agree the first part of the set was the best energy-wise. We got a 2.5 hour show. ‘Nuff said.

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