Friday, November 28, 2008

Paul Weller And Friends In Brixton

Ok, so who has missed me then? Excuse the absence of anything blogwise recently, I've actually been busy for a change. Much to write about, including a visit from Beth from Books Etc! However, for my return it's the last 2 Paul Weller gigs of the year for All Mod Cons, both at the Brixton Academy in London.

I'm going to try and roll both nights into one post, so bear with me as things might get a little jumbled.

A little over a month ago I had a really nice email from a reader in the US saying that they were coming over to London to see Weller and would I mind giving her the lowdown about the area and about the general UK "way" of gigs. Needless to say, I was more than happy to do so and said that she was more than welcome to hang out with the Viking, Chickenfoot and myself whilst she was here*.

Waiting for the others I bumped into the young emailer in the queue, who shall now be known as TM, and I found out that she was only here for 3 days so that she could see 2 gigs! Now that's what I call dedication. And, as I've found with pretty much everyone at a Weller gig, she was a bloody lovely person.

All Mod Cons, TM, and The Viking (who looks like he's about to sneeze)

All Mod Cons, Chickenfoot, and The Viking (looking normal this time)

As usual, when I have standing tickets, I arrived fairly early so that I could get as close to the front as possible. Much as Weller tends to play smaller venues, there's just something extra when you're up against the barrier with nobody between you and the performance.

Before Weller arrived on stage, we were faced with the "warm-up" acts. Tuesday nights The Hosts were not my thing. Whilst the lead singer had a fairly good voice, the songs left me feeling flat and disinterested. And when he tried to crack a joke about it being a band members birthday and asked us all to sing Happy Birthday, things got worse. And judging by the reaction from the crowd, the request went down like a sack of the proverbial. Wednesday night however we had Little Barrie as a warm up, the lead singer having also been a guest guitarist at the recent BBC Sessions recording. I thought they were excellent, so much so I went out and purchased their album (which is good, although I prefer their live stuff).

With all 4 of us right at the front, and TM and I on the final night in the same places (does that even make sense?!), we were treated to 2 quite incredible gigs. As soon as Weller appeared on stage the crowd went nuts, everyone was really up for it. Including Weller himself. I've not seen him on stage as relaxed and so full of attitude, really feeding off the live-wire audience. The amount of energy pouring from him you would never have guessed he was finishing such an extensive tour that took in Europe, Australia, Japan, America, Canada and even South America.

Both nights had everything. Songs from The Jam, The Style Council, his solo career and even some Beatles numbers. Tuesday night was particularly good for me as he played Out Of The Sinking, Changingman, Wild Blue Yonder and All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You), which are 4 of my favorite live songs, within the first 6 of the evening. Before we were even a quarter of the way through the set I had almost lost my voice. By the end of the night I sounded like I had been eating chalk for a week. Would I have it any other way? Not on your life.

I also had a souvenir bonanza from both nights. I managed to bag myself setlists and 2 plectrums, both Wellers. Normally you have to battle with people at the end of the gig to get what you can, but Brixton served up a surprise in the shape of a security guy on the other side of the barrier. Weller had just played Push It Along, and with a sweep of his hand across the guitar strings, he threw the plectrum high in the air. It landed on the edge of the stage, feet away from me. Knowing which song had been played with the shiny piece of plastic meant I just had to have it. I managed to get the attention of the security guy, who I'm going to call Dave, and he slyly picked it up for me before the next song started. Kudos was his to revel in, glory was mine. Dave immediately became the most popular orange coat wearing man in the building, the entire front line trying to get him to pick up memorabilia for them. Instead, he calmly stood back and posed for a photo for us. Top lad!

Security Man Dave

All Mod Cons smug look. I own the plectrum. 'Ave It.

Wednesday night was almost an exact repeat. Only it was a different song. Dave was again on hand to provide the mobile arm in grabbing me the plectrum used to play Changingman. I think he just liked reveling in his new found popularity, can't say that I blame him. And I certainly wasn't complaining. I even managed to get Dave to grab a 2nd Wednesday night plectrum, again of Wellers, for the lovely TM. I couldn't have her come all the way from the US and go home without a decent souvenir. That's just not cricket.

The Wednesday night even threw up an unexpected guest appearance from Carleen Anderson, who had previously provided backing vocals for Wellers Stanley Road and Heavy Soul albums, providing more vocals for People Get Ready and Come Together (which was so outstanding, I'm not even going to try and find the words to explain it). Her voice is absolutely fantastic and really provides another dimension.

The only dampener was the montage of images from Vietnam and 9/11 that is projected on the screen during Whirlpools End. Does it shock and hit the desired target? More than likely. But it also brings the crowd down a few notches. So much so that I didn't look at it the 2nd night, and found something a little kinder on the eye to look at. Fortunately Weller's encores were so good, we all left with huge smiles on our faces.

This year I've amassed 14 Paul Weller performances, each one has been special in its own way. I've met some excellent people from all over the world and everyone has played a part in making each gig unique. Brixton was something different altogether. Not only were the brilliant people from PWBF there (although I didn't get to see them for too long this time unfortunately), but I had 2 of my closest friends there, I had fantastic company for the 2nd night, the venue was top drawer, the crowd were on form and Weller gave a performance that will survive as one of my all time favorites.

I would like to say a special thanks to all those at PWBF, for a great many things. Especially Sakura and Woodcutter, you're both great.

I've now got an extensive break from Weller gigs. He's taking a break thank god, I can't afford anymore! Although I'm very much looking forward to seeing Oasis in January. Plectrums and setlists from there? I doubt it. But I'll have a damn good sing-along!

All Mod Cons "Wella Brella"...thanks to TopMod for this!

Tuesday nights setlist, plectrum and ticket!

Wednesday nights setlist, plectrum and ticket!

Motley Crew

As a side note...all of the photos on here were edited in some way by All Mod Cons and are the property of All Mod Cons. If you want to use them, please do so but ask first. Or at least drop a link in to here as a nod. Cheers!

Please also take a look at the new Song Of The Week...Little Barrie and Pay To Join. Feel free to let me know your thoughts!

*You can't have Americans wandering around the city on their own, you never know what might happen (joke!).


PG said...

Wow. 14 gigs in one year. I should add some of his songs to my ipod. Do you have top 5 recommendations? I usually prefer lower key stuff.

I want to know more about your visit with Beth!

HSB DaveB. said...

Great read John! Been one hell of a year for you Weller wise indeed, huh? Put a link up over at PWNews to send some folks over for a look. Thanks again my Brutha!!!

Peace and SOUL,

Reeny's Ramblin' said...

You are certainly dedicated. I think you may be disappointed with gigs in Toronto (if you ever found yourself here). People are pretty lame, they care more about what they look like than actually appreciating the music. Usually, people gather up around the stage, fold their arms and do the stationary bob up and down.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

You are seriously dedicated, I'll give you that. I haven't seen him once, but I would love to. And excellent work on the souvenirs.

My word verification was 'unhypo' which is now a word that will enter my vocabulary to describe anyone who is lethargic.

Angel said...

um...does Weller know he has a stalker??? you. are. obsessed!!!!! ;)

and what of your visit with Beth from Books Etc.???? I MISS her!!!

Beth said...

The “Wella Brella” picture captures the quintessential AMC.

Crashdummie said...

wow now THATS what i call an umbrella!

U guyz seemed to have loadsa fun! awesome.