Posted October 11, 2015 by Eric Evans in Show Reviews

Paul Weller // 10-1-15 // Wonder Ballroom

20151001PaulWeller3Paul Weller thrives on contradiction and challenge. Remember when he went from his classic British angry young man band The Jam to the smooth polish of The Style Council, enraging one set of fans while earning new ones? That dance floor phase gave way to his solo career and he’s rarely looked back. He dares fans to follow him wherever his muse leads. And though none of his musical incarnations ever really broke in the States he has a passionate fan base that’s selling out tour dates from one city to the next.

That was certainly the case at the Wonder Ballroom. The sold-out crowd was a bit older than that of the average Portland show but you couldn’t tell from the excitement level, which was at a fever pitch for a man quite rightly seen as a living legend of the UK music scene. The Villagers opened up and played their thoughtful acoustic pop to a packed house and the crowd appeared quite receptive.

Weller took the stage at 10 pm and played 2+ hours worth of career-spanning songs but very emphatically did not present a “greatest hits” show. Quite the opposite: fans who were at the previous night’s Seattle show pointed out that there was very little overlap between the two nights’ set lists and neither was hit-heavy. After all, between projects the man has 24-odd albums worth of material, so why play the same dozen tracks that have always been on the radio?

The band, featuring longtime collaborator and Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock, was impossibly tight and tore through 27 songs (seven of which were from the excellent new album Saturn’s Pattern). The US tour just started but this band sounds as if they’ve been on the road for years, effortlessly switching styles from song to song. Weller was visibly pleased, smiling throughout. Speaking of how he looked, any reviewer would be amiss not mentioning Weller’s sartorial splendor. Always a bit of a dandy (and with his own men’s suiting line to prove it), Weller took the stage in a thin gray lamb’s wool vest and matching slacks, looking dapper, lean, and athletic.

The many juxtapositions that make up Paul Weller—working man’s politics and Savile Row suiting, loud guitars and blue-eyed soul—make him the artist he is, and his tireless work ethic is evident on stage. A second encore consisting of a blistering version of The Jam classic “Town Called Malice” pushed the show well past the midnight hour, and though the crowd was spent Weller looked as if he could go on playing for another few hours.

He noted with some disbelief that he’d never played Portland before, but if the rapturous response he got was any indication, Paul Weller will be back.

Eric Evans



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