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Concert Reviews:
Paul Weller jams in top form at Saint Andrews

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017

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DETROIT -- If any artist from the punk era can rest on his laurels and be a nostalgia act, it’s Paul Weller.

The British rocker did, after all, build not one but two bands, the Jam and the Style Council, creating more than enough iconic and well-loved music to feather the nest for as long as he wants. But that’s not Weller’s way, and for the past 25 years he’s been plowing forward as a solo artist, every bit as potent as when the Jam’s “In The City” blasted out of Surrey four decades ago this year.

That top form was on display again Wednesday night, Oct. 11, at Saint Andrews Hall, where Weller and his six-piece band -- “jammed up here” on stage amidst serious amplification that obscured at least a couple of the musicians from easy sight -- powered through a generous 25 songs during its hour-and-45 minute set. Looking trim and Varvatos-runway ready in his black T-shirt and blue jeans, Weller touched on his entire career, not surprisingly favoring the solo work but also touching on his other bands -- “My Ever Changing Moods,” “Have You Ever Had It Blue” and “Shout To The Top!” from the Style Council, “Start!” and a balcony-shaking “Town Called Malice” from the Jam.

The solo material stood up well alongside that, however, from riffy rockers such as “The Weaver,” “I’m Where I Should Be” and “White Sky” to the funk groove of “Woo See Mama,” one of several songs with Weller on piano, and gentler fare such as “Long Long Road,” “The Impossible Idea,” “Above The Clouds” and “You Do Something To Me.” Songs such as “Hung Up” and “Peacock Suit” were tight and crisp, while a long, jammed-out take on the psychedelic-flavored “Into Tomorrow” was a particular highlight.

An avid Motown fan, Weller didn’t let his Detroit show pass without tribute, either. The group’s first-encore was, well, supreme as Weller asked for a bit of “indulgence” as the sextet romped through Jr. Walker & the All Stars’ “(I’m A) Road Runner,” a slow ‘n’ soulful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas’ “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave.”

The past, of course, was glorious. But Weller’s present was really the star of Wednesday’s show, along with the ever changing moods of a diverse body of work that only continues to grow.

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