Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paul Weller Melbourne 2008

Another Saturday night, another festival of geezer. Paul Weller worked his way through power supply problems to open his Australian tour at the Forum in Melbourne. Highlights included Changing Man, Eton Rifles and Too Much to Dream Last Night from 22 Dreams.

The sold out crowd matched him year for year, pound for pound. We aint getting any younger, folks. But unlike Morrissey or even Jarvis, Weller has not picked up a younger following. It's not surprising really since his song these days tends have a retrospective glow about it. The urgency of Eton Rifles or That's Entertainment (you want an anthem for a generation, I'll give you an anthem for a generation) is pretty much gone. However, I wouldn't pension him off quite yet. Each of Weller's phases has been so distinctive who is to say whether some other incarnation is not just waiting up the road. At least he is being true to himself. And 22 Dreams floats up enough possible threads for future action to keep us guessing.

One thing that puzzled me to the point of slight fatigue was the endless swapping of guitars. What gives, buddy? A rack at the back of the stage held around a dozen or so. Two battered acoustic guitars, two Telecasters, at least two semi-acoustics and others I can't exactly recall. Between songs seemed to be devoted to achieving Olympic records for guitar switching. I know the back catalogue offers a range of tones and textures (and he's the Modfather, he could what he damn well likes, thanks), but come on. Does Keith Richards change his guitars like this? 

Kim Salmon was recently explaining a how frustrated he became watching  the guitarist of a brand name band who needed a different instrument for every song the guy played. Kim made the point that a good guitarist should, within reason, be able to get the sound out of the guitar that he or she needs. A guitar player, like a writer, should develop their own voice, so that when you hear the sound, you know who's making it. Is it the tradesman, or is it the tools?

Michelle had a different take on all this guitar business. She says Weller's guitar fetish is like Carrie Bradshaw's craving for shoes. It's about showing off what you have got, impressing everyone you know with your vast collection of desirable items. I can't argue with that.

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