Paul Weller has long had a bit of stubbornness and stodginess about him--he seems to attract patriarchal-sounding nicknames like the Modfather and the Guv'nor--which may help explain why critics in the UK have been so quick to dismiss him as the dean of dad rock in recent years. (In the current issue of Word magazine he rails against MTV, the Internet, and cell phones.) True, none of the solo albums he's released since his 1992 debut have the punk fire of the Jam or the jazz-pop eclecticism of the Style Council, but his recent work isn't as dire as many suggest. Following a pair of uneven discs, Heliocentric (2000) and Illumination (2002), Weller sounded steadier on last year's wide-ranging covers collection, Studio 150, featuring songs by Tim Hardin, Gil Scott-Heron, and Neil Young, among others. And As Is Now (Yep Roc), which comes out next month, is his best since 1993's Wild Wood. The first single, "From the Floorboards Up," is a taut, two-and-a-half-minute return to form, and throughout the album Weller mixes bittersweet anthems ("Come On/Let's Go"), pastoral folk ("On a Misty Morning"), and Liverpool rock ("Paper Smile"). This show, part of a six-date U.S. tour, is Weller's first Chicago gig since a triumphant career-spanning acoustic set at the House of Blues in 2003; he'll play with a full band. Ian Moore opens. Tue 9/20, 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $29.50, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lawrence Watson.