This was my third encounter with the Modfather in more intimate surroundings, as Paul was here to help raise funds for Scouse drummer Steve Pilgrim’s charity, be one percent. The venue, the former Barfly/Masque venue now under the guise of the East Village Arts Club: A venture owned by MAMA group, who boast London’s Forum and Borderline as well as Manchester’s Ritz amongst many others throughout England & Scotland.
The place was Jam packed (apologies, couldn’t help the pun), something the effects of were noted within two or three songs of the set, as I’d overheard they allowed 200 too many through the door and many had to step outside due to the intense heat parading itself throughout the venue. It was great for me, as someone obsessed by movies like Quadrophenia to more modern day TV like This is England, to see the ageing mods in their desert boots, Fred Perrys and Baracuta G9 Harringtons. The women sporting the dyed cropped hair, with the balding more rotund cab driver-like blokes chanting out, “We are the MODS!”
After a quick introduction from Steve Pilgrim, Paul and his band (backed by OCS’s Steve Cradock on guitar, Andy Lewis on bass and the Moons’ Andy Crofts on keys) ripped straight into one of Paul’s more recent compositions, ‘Wake Up The Nation’. Ironically on my last encounter with the Modfather he proclaimed he should rename the song “Wake Up Liverpool” given the subdued atmosphere he had created at that show… You get out what you put in Paul, mate.
The atmosphere tonight, however, was one of a crowd well up for it. After going through a couple of solo classics including ‘Come On Let’s Go’, ‘From The Floorboards Up’ and ‘Broken Stones’ to The Style Council’s ‘Ever Changing Moods’, Paul’s mood with that of a over heated crowd changed again when, before breaking into one of his most recent recordings, ‘The Attic’, he reminded us that it was from a record no one in Liverpool had bought.
By this point a lot of people had already started to make way to the bar/outdoor areas due to the intense heat and lack of space, so this was missed by a lot of people although the atmosphere along with Paul had that subdued feeling I recall from my last time in his company. After going through the motions with more solo stuff, Paul ended the set with the Jam classic ‘Start’. Things certainly picked up within the crowd when they got there first taste of the one Weller sound they believe to be true.
Paul returned to the stage for an encore and seemed a little revitalised. He came back on a cracked a joke about Kasabian headlining Glasto, which was missed on everyone but Stevie Cradock, and ripped into ‘The Changingman’, which continued to build on the solid end to his set. ‘In The City’ and ‘Malice’ followed with ‘Out Of Sinking’ thrown inbetween to end what was largely a set built on his solo compositions, and the disappointed crowd made there way out all of whom mentioning that one Jam song they love not making the cut. Ageing rock stars tend to give fans what they want – I feel Mr Weller does not see himself in that bracket still, yet happy to cruise down the river denial churning out records that “no one up here wants to buy.” His hardcore remain loyal but for how long? I was too young for the Jam but brought up on those sounds: Energetic, raw, in your face music that the ageing mods crave to hear one more time before hanging up those Doc Martin boots and harringtons for the last time, now that’s entertainment!