Meeting Over Yonder

To Whitechapel! …on Saturday evening to see Probably the Best Pop Group in the World.

Ahh – that was the claim back in the day with those GLORIOUS Council Meetings with Merton Mick and yer Man.

But it all went a little wobbly for Weller in the late ’80s. He had to experience *that* Albert Hall house music humiliation to regroup, disband, and then re-emerge as a Nu Day Mod.

Changing Man indeed.

It’s been 28 years since I last saw any of the Style Council songs being performed live. I can just about still squeeze into the 30 inch waist white Levis.

This was my first fashion faux pas on Saturday evening as I headed east for the Weller Convention (gulp) at the Rhythm Factory.

The Style Councillors – Probably the Best Tribute Group in the World – had opted for the post-Favourite Shop, pre-Cost of Loving white Levis and blazers look.

I was at least wearing my cravat.

You really shouldn’t take any event calling itself a Weller Convention too seriously. Tribute acts are traditionally pants.

But where else am I going to hear a burst of that GLORY run of tunes that defined my youth from 83 through to 88-ish?

Merton Mick and yer Man have been pictured together once again of late. But the Changing Man never looks back.

The Style Councillors were second on the bill at the Rhythm Factory. I managed to dodge the bloody hordes of Ripper tours, just in time to make it down to the front as the second song of the set sparked up.

EVERYONE in the audience looked like yer Man. I don’t think that I would want to be able to grow a feather cut if the downside meant that you had to have a plastic surgeon place a Weller honker on the front of your face.

This was spooky.

The tunes that simply ARE ME were being played in a small east end club by a live band that definitely looked and sounded the part. I was all ready to light up a Superking once again.

I closed my eyes for one moment, and just took it all in.

Yep. That’s me, back at the Royal Concert Hall in the Fair City, white denim top to toe and even wearing a bloody red rosette of the Labour Party.

#whynotjointheLabourparty, etc.

It will only lead to the Style Council splitting up and a bunch of bloody political careerists coming in through the back door. You don’t see many loafers sans socks being worn in Westminster, Comrades.

But there was yer Man (sorta), on stage, loafers, turned up white Levis and with ‘Dee’ even perfecting the swagger right next to him.

Poor old Merton Mick has let himself go, mind (CRACKING voice though, fella.)

Speak Like a Child got me dancing.

Speak Like a Child pretty much got the entire room dancing.

There was barely room to fit all TEN Style Councillors on stage. The live brass section was an absolute bonus that probably made the evening for me.

Headstart for Happiness was a step in re-living nostalgia / early relationships slightly too far.

I confess that it all got a little emotional. I had to nip outside into the sharp Whitechapel air ‘for a fag break’ and to wipe away a few tears.

Home Breakers was bloody brilliant. I haven’t even heard the original Cllr’s perform this. Plus it’s not often that you hear a Live Aid political crowd pleaser being played in the mean streets of Whitechapel.

What was so special about this set was that it completely avoided all cliches. It would have been far to easy for a tribute act to play the crowd pleasers.

But Weller hasn’t exactly been shy of TSC material of late, ever so slightly expanding his own live set to allow some of the middle period tunes to creep in.

The Style Councillors chose songs that were far from obvious.

The Whole Point of No return?

Woh.

Where the chuffers did that come from?

The FUCK ME moment was when Money-Go-Round (BLOODY MONEY-GO-ROUND) became the Soul Deep / Strength of Your Nature medley.

Um, excuse me whilst I disappear for a ‘fag break’ once again, fellas.

I was back in time for Walls Come Tumbling Down.

“The Class War’s real and not mythologised”

…sounded as relevant now as it did back in the summer of ’85.

And that was pretty much me done with the Weller Convention. I stayed around to bop a little to some fine soul tunes, plus I did enjoy the punchy pop of the Weller Collective (Mmmm – you look familiar, Sir.)

The solo Weller was pretty much covered by the Modfathers – big brick Northern blokes growling the songs of a southern Face.

Rather well, actually.

But it wasn’t for me.

I recognise that The Jam meant so much to many, many people. Solo Weller had done incredibly well to resurrect the mess that was left with the Style Council.

But was a fantastic mess.

French jazz, mid ’80s politics, misunderstood white boy electro soul, weirdo classical suites and then house music happenings.

Probably the Best Pop Group / Tribute Group in the World.

Keep the Faith.

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