For a long, silent while it looks like the man in the white suit can’t go through with it. Sitting onstage in a beautiful antique wooden armchair, he faces the dimmed, hushed, ornate hall, trying to compose himself, swigging water to quench his dry throat, rubbing a nervous hand along his jawline.
There have only been a few fleeting moments of doubt in the 32 years I’ve been a Paul Weller fan: His 1979 announcement that all members of The Jam were to vote Conservative; the band’s worrying funky disco departure ‘Precious’ appearing on a new-fangled 12” with ‘A Town Called Malice’; the sudden end of The Jam; The Style Council’s very patchy, never properly released garage/house album ‘Modernism: A New Decade’ and the ill-advised moustache of 1995.
Not bad going really when you think about it. And in the end those worries were all proved to be groundless. Weller wasn’t a Conservative; rather he dedicated a substantial chunk of his work and life to socialism, the Labour Party and Red Wedge. ‘Precious’ turned out to be quite good actually. Calling time on The Jam, while distressing at the time, cleared the way for another impressive body of work. The garage tunes, while sounding tinny and dated now, show a man nobly trying something new rather than resting on his laurels. And the ‘tache is but a distant, vaguely troubling memory.