And I’m about to tell you more (see what I did there?)
I was discussing the other day whether there was anyone in the last 50 years who had been more popular or critically acclaimed as a solo artist than they had been as part of their original group.
The only one I could think of for certain off the top of my head was Michael Jackson who, for a while, was the non pareil of all pop performers so clearly better than he was with the Jackson 5.
I got to discussing it because of the recent Morrissey gig I went to and the reaction to the songs he recorded with The Smiths compared to his solo output.
And, equally, the same could apply to Paul Weller who I saw at the Echo Arena in Liverpool almost a decade ago.
I was a massive fan of The Jam although, shamefully, I never saw them live but regard their singles collection as being as close to a perfect greatest hits as you could have.
As a side note I think it was the NME that reviewed the first Pet Shop Boys’ greatest hits album by declaring that it was that rarest of things, a greatest hits collection where they are all hits and they’re all great.
So I probably wasn’t alone in the arena in hoping that a few Jam classics would be sprinkled throughout the set.
But what was hugely disappointing was that a large section of the audience seemed to only want to become engaged when he did a Jam song – and the same thing happened at a festival I saw him at.
Now Weller has a great solo back catalogue. He has never settled for a default mode knowing that his fans might like it. He’s always stretched himself and while I can’t say I’ve liked it all, there’s more than enough to make any Weller gig a solidly entertaining experience.
But all around me there were groups of people chatting away until the familiar opening chords to The Eton Rifles or That’s Entertainment sounded out.
And I wondered whether you would really spend the money just to see if he might do a couple of songs from a band who had split up a quarter of a century ago?
Now, of course, chat at gigs happens all the time so it might not seem so noticeable but then I was really taken aback.
I saw The Jam twice but before you get irritated I recall it wasn’t all that great of an experience. The first time was on The Gift tour where he played virtually all of that album before it was even released, so a fair restlessness came from the crowd, and then the second time was on their final tour so there was an even more somber mood to the evening.
Now I’ve not seen Weller solo but know from magazines that he’s pushed himself against what is expected of him and has collected a solid solo career from it, and so fans who spend what must be a fair price to see him are a bit weird to me to only take home the nostalgic element, which I’ve read disappoints him thoroughly.
I confess I could take or leave a Paul Weller solo show, but these days I find myself so disappointed that I never did get to see The Style Council live. Now that really would have been something.