52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

a smash of glass and the rumble of boots....

From The Jam @ Nottingham Rock City, 4th December 2007.

Morrissey once referred to Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, the two 'other' members of The Smiths, as "Bruce and Rick".... meaning that they were nothing more than hired hands and contributed little or nothing to the success of the band. He was referring, of course, to Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler of the Jam.

The Jam broke up in 1982 when I was eight years old and when Paul Weller decided that it would be more interesting to go and form the Style Council. Well, perhaps he was right, but it's the Jam that will go down as Weller's most vital contribution to British music. In fact, in my opinion Weller has become less and less relevant as time has gone on: he's stuck in some kind of absurd time warp where his stupid, feathered hair is cool, where his opinions are important and where dadrock is king. Well, Ocean Colour Scene and Noel Gallagher might believe that, but I certainly don't. In fact, I think a reformation of The Jam minus its most famous member is surely a really good thing, isn't it? Who wants that grumpy old bastard ruining our fun by mucking about with the songs to try and keep them alive? No thanks... I enjoyed the Bootleg Beatles at Glastonbury this year, and I went into this one hoping that we would get all of the hits played ferociously and with gusto by two of the original three band members.

Well.... they didn't play nothing but the hits, and I think I probably only recognised about 50% of the material in total, but actually this didn't lessen my enjoyment of the night at all. Rock City wasn't quite packed to the rafters, but it was an absolute pleasure to watch an audience of 40-somethings shouting out the words to every song and totally losing themselves in the music. It was also a joy to see a band so clearly enjoying themselves and the music they were playing. In fact, it was so good that I'm told that I spent the whole evening with a stupid grin on my face. Not something that's true of every gig I go to, that's for damn sure. Foxton and Buckler both look a bit older these days of course, but they both still sound pretty good. Foxton in particular still looks the part, strutting around the stage in his mod suit and white trainers with his bass slung low and performing scissors kicks as though he were still a teenager and not 52 years old. He's got one of the best live bass sounds that I can remember hearing - I actually went back to the records this morning to see if the sound was that distinctive on the albums and if I'd somehow managed to miss it completely by assuming that the Jam was all about Weller - and it really is that good there too. Go check it out: dig out your Jam records and listen to how big a part of the overall sound the bass (and Foxton's backing vocals) really are. It's not just about Buckler and Foxton though, and the band are beefed up by singer/guitarist Russell Hastings, who wisely doesn't attempt to imitate Weller too much and barks those famous lyrics out with some real bite. You pretty soon forget (or stop caring) that Weller isn't there. Second guitarist (and Adrian Chiles lookalike) Dave Moore is no slouch either, thrashing out the choppy solos or grinning away as he plays a keyboard. The band sound really, really good - certainly helped by the fact that the songs are generally of an extremely high standard and are no more than about three minutes long: there are no superflous solos here, and every song is sharp and too the point. When Led Zeppelin reform later this month, I imagine you'll be lucky if you get more than about five songs in a three hour set....

Most of the hits were here: In the City, The Modern World, News of the World, David Watts, Strange Town, The Eton Rifles, Going Underground, Pretty Green, A-Bomb in Wardour Street, That's Entertainment, Town Called Malice... and best of all, an absolutely killer version of Down In The Tube Station At Midnight. Even the stuff that I didn't know - but everyone else did - sounded pretty damn good to me. If I had to complain, I'd maybe say that I would have liked to hear some more familiar songs towards the front of the set rather than weighted towards the end, but of course, this simply meant that the finish was sensational...

I know it's a bit like going to see a superior tribute act that contains two-thirds of the original membership of the band, but this was a really, really enjoyable night. One thing stood out above everything else though, and that was the sheer quality of Paul Weller's lyrics: these are songs that have really stood the test of time and are stamped with the touch of genius.

Whatever happened?

A great night.

Verdict: 8 / 10



  • At 7:56 am, Blogger Pynchon said…

    I saw them earlier this year and I'm seeing them again in a week and a bit. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

    Paul who?


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