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Life Is Timeless: From The Jam in New York


“We are a tribute band in a sense, with the advantage that we have two (original) members in our ranks.”

Pete Townshend wrote that, just a couple of weeks back, in an e-mail Question and Answer session with Who fans. But his words could as easily apply to the Who’s greatest offspring, the Jam, and the group currently touring under almost that name. From The Jam are also “a tribute band in a sense” – and they too have the advantage of having two original members, Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton, in their ranks. Admittedly, the lone missing original member from the line-up happens to have been the old group’s singer, songwriter and spokesman, but for those of us who followed the Jam in our youth, Bruce and Rick were so much more than mere supporting musicians. The Jam were a band in all the ways, and with all the clichés, that such a simple statement invites, and we loved them for it.

It was only after the Jam split that certain parties tried to rewrite the history books, to make out like the group was a one-sided affair dictated from on top. Perhaps, at the end, it was, and perhaps that’s why Paul Weller felt the need to break it up at the height of their fame and acclaim, and get on with doing his own thing. But until 1982, I can tell you that the Jam was very much a three-way musical split, a group blessed not just with Paul Weller as their front man, but with one of the finest rhythm sections in the world. And if you don’t believe me, you may wish to check out Bruce and Rick’s “tribute” band, From The Jam, should they come rolling through your town.

img_6338.jpgRussell Hastings in the unenviable Weller role; Bruce Foxton in the inimitable Bruce Foxton role. From the Jam at the Gramercy, NYC, Feb 9.

They came rolling through New York’s Gramercy Theater last Saturday night and it was, of course, an emotional evening. The “of course” assumes that you know a little of my history with the Jam. I first saw the group in 1977, when I was 13; I saw them near enough a hundred times before they broke up in 1982, when I was 18. They were the soundtrack to my teens. But that was then, this is now. If Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler were just 21 in 1977, that makes them the far side of fifty now, which gives them every excuse to be rusty, especially given that until recently, they hadn’t played these songs onstage for so long. Yet they were spot on perfect the whole night long, playing as loud, as furious and yet as nimble as ever I recall. They may have slowed down a little, but presumably I have as well, because I really didn’t notice the difference. Musically, it felt like yesterday. Visually, Rick has lost his hair – I know how that feels – and Bruce wisely doesn’t attempt the vertical splits of which he was often freeze-framed by Pennie Smith and her ilk. But that aside, the years have been kind to them: Rick still plays with controlled precision, Bruce can still jump about, reach his vocal harmonies and run his inimitable bass lines. They’re both fit and trim and still look good in suits; Bruce even still has his full head of hair. This is not your reformed bunch of old fat dudes. This is a couple of old punk mods who were once part of the best band on the planet and, well into middle age, are ready to come back out on the road and remind you of as much.

But From The Jam is not just about Bruce and Rick. It’s about the absent founding member, and the person who has dared step into his shoes. In subbing for Paul Weller, Russell Hastings has taken on one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and he carries it off with amazing aplomb. It’s been well-noted that he sings and plays remarkably like Weller; several times Saturday night I closed my eyes and was almost convinced that I was hearing the original band. But he’s so much more – and, significantly, much less – than a Paul Weller impersonator. Russell delivers the notes, but holds back on the delivery. It’s not his star trip, and he’s smart enough to know as much. So there’s no pontificating when he introduces the songs, no claim to ownership. He never slips up and says that a song is from “our second album” or that it was “our first number one.” Nor does he attempt to elaborate on any of the songs as Weller himself once did; they’re not his words to explain. He has to simultaneously be both the front man and avoid being front man, and somehow, he pulls it off.

img_6366.jpg Rick Buckler, Russell Hastings, Bruce Foxton and Dave Moore of From the Jam during the encore, the Gramercy Theater, Saturday Feb 9. All pics by Tony Fletcher.

It helps his cause that he’s a nobody. He’s not Ian Astbury fronting the Doors. He’s not even a member of the Chords, the Purple Hearts or, God help us, the Lambrettas. He’s just another ex-Jam fan and mod revivalist who, twenty five years after his heroes broke up, found himself in a Jam covers band with the band’s original drummer – and then, a few months later, with Foxton on board and a name change, in a group pertaining to be From the Jam. He’s walking a tightrope but he appears to be keeping his balance. The fact he’s a top bloke is surely part of the explanation. (There is also a fourth member, Dave Moore, on second guitar and keyboards; he was competent, he filled out the sound, he rightly stayed right out of the way.)

Oddly, I felt that Paul Weller’s absence only emphasized Paul’s presence, which loomed over the room like a giant aura. Frequently during the set, as I sang along to Weller’s songs, I found myself appreciating his songwriting skills all over again, the remarkable street poetry he brought to the punk movement, the brave love songs he wrote at such a young and hardened age, the maturity and wisdom he developed while still in his early twenties. We can laugh at the lyrics to “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” when we actually sit down to dissect them, but I still identify with songs as crass as “the Modern World” and “A-Bomb In Wardour Street,” because, when you’re 18-19 years old, you can only call it like you see it. And if Paul Weller is not exactly chuffed that Bruce and Rick have gone on tour with near enough the old band name (reportedly, there have been more than a couple of legal letters headed From The Jam’s way), he should at least be grateful that they’re doing so much to revive the old material, playing it to a new audience and maybe even selling a few more Jam albums along the way.

Songs? Almost exactly what you would expect. The set opened with “In The City” and “The Modern World.” It closed with “Going Underground,” “Down In The Tube Station” and “Town Called Malice.” They played many of the other Jam hits that you would expect, including what was one my all-time anthem, “When You’re Young,” plus “Strange Town,” “David Watts,” “A-Bomb In Wardour Street,” “Start,” “Eton Rifles,” and, seeing as you’re asking, “News Of The World” too. (Notable by their absence: “The Bitterest Pill” and “Beat Surrender.”) A few album tracks of note: “The Gift,” “It’s Too Bad,” “All Mod Cons,” “To Be Someone,” an absolutely astonishingly powerful version of “Private Hell” that may have been the night’s highlight, “Pretty Green,” “Little Boy Soldiers,” and, seeing as you’re asking, “Smithers Jones” but of course. They were careful not to adopt Paul’s most personal songs; perhaps the only time they stepped over that line was with “Ghosts.” That very small aside aside, it was a stellar choice of songs, meticulously – and furiously – performed, with rarely as much as a pause for breath between one number and another.

img_6349.jpg

I must emphasize that I’m really not a big fan of reunions and reformations, and I never go see tribute bands. I’m not big on nostalgia, and most of my life is spent looking ahead. But twenty-five years after the Jam broke up, I was willing to lose myself in my youth: the performance was that convincing, the rhythm section that instantly recognizable, that it was easy to do so. Eyes closed, a couple of beers inside me (like going out for a date with an old girlfriend, I needed some Dutch courage), I found myself back at the Michael Sobell Sports Center in 1981, when they opened the gym doors at the end and the sweat lifted up off the floors and formed a fog through the whole hall. I was at the Marquee in 1978, thirteen years old, standing on Paul’s flight case at the side of the room so as to see over the crowd. I was back at the Marquee less than two years later, for the John’s Boys “secret show”, the night after they played “Eton Rifles” on Top of The Pops wearing red army jackets, and I could never wear mine again without being accused of being a copy cat. I was in France, in Lilles and Rouens (’80? ’81?), getting by on no money, getting attacked by French skinheads, and leading a group of twenty other Brits in a five-mile walk back to the Jam’s hotel in the snow. (And when we got there, one of the band made us buy them a round, at five-star hotel prices. Fortunately the hotel staff let us all sleep in the bar.) I was in Manchester in 1980, aged sixteen, walking the streets of Moss Side with my school-mate Richard Heard waiting for the first bus back to London on Saturday morning. I was singing along to “Boy About Town” when it was dedicated my way a couple of times in London. I was out on the floor in Brighton countless occasions, and on the train platform afterwards with another 500 Jam fans heading back to London. I was in Bath for the end of a Jam tour, 1979, and I think Mark Blakemore came along for the ride, and the group took pity on us and gave us a lift back to London in the tour bus. I was at the Shearwater Youth Club for the group’s “secret shows” at the real height of their first fame (spring of ’80 I believe), when they all got just a little inebriated and fell over on stage several times, Paul even breaking a guitar in the process; how I would love to have a tape of that show. I was singing “Away From The Numbers” every time I got bullied at school. I was singing “Thick as Thieves” with the mates I did have. I was singing “Happy Together” and “Monday” with Francesca when I finally fell in love (and I’ll never embarrassed about that again). I was singing “I Need You” on my wedding day – I had the hired band learn the song for me. I was singing all the Jam B-sides with Catatonia’s manager at a business dinner in New York about ten years ago, much to the rest of our table’s amusement; we worked our way backwards and I don’t believe we missed a single note. And then I was back at the Gramercy, singing along to “Strange Town” – and it turned out I still can’t get the words right to that one. We all have our handicaps.

After the show, Rick shared with me his disappointment that Paul doesn’t want to be part of this reunion. I understand his feelings; they were childhood friends until the day Paul abruptly broke up the band and jettisoned Rick and Bruce from his life. I sympathize with his need for some sort of “closure.” But reforming the Jam with the original three members might not be the way to go about it. For at least now, without Paul Weller, we don’t have to compare From The Jam with precisely how it was, what it could have been, and what it has become. Without Paul up on stage, we don’t have to wonder whether it’s all for the money, or whether there will be the inevitable new album, and how that new album will inevitably pale alongside the old albums. Without Paul, it’s not the Jam, it’s From The Jam. It’s that tribute band with the two original members of which Townshend talks – and just as with the Who, that makes it the best possible tribute band out there. Cheers. Thanks a lot, Ta.

img_6387.jpgTake a bow, lads. You earned it.

Jam archives from Jamming! magazine
Paul Weller interview from 1978 and unedited transcript
Jam interview from 1979
Paul Weller on Pop, from 1982

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Discussion

34 Comment(s)

  1. Andy Bell

    12 February, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Tony

    Great review and not just because you enjoyed the show! I especially the section you wrote about Russ Hastings, for me that really sums up the fatastic job he’s done. I’ve caught FTJ play three times every minute, like you has taken me back to the times that I saw The Jam play in the late seventies, early eighties.

    I even agree with you that even if Paul did want to be part of this now it wouldn’t be the same.

    One thing that always impresses me about Rick and Bruce is how respectful they are towards Paul whenever they are interviewed. There must be bitterness there but it doesn’t come across, and sadly for me it is Paul that comes poorly out of this.

    As I say really enjoyed reading your article.

  2. Trevor Ryde

    12 February, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Fantastic review. I would have killed to see FTJ on their current North American tour. I saw them play London Forum in December and they blew my head off. The new line up sounded far superior to the original three piece. Buckler and Foxton have found gold with new recruites Russ Hastings (lead vox and guitar) and Dave Moore (Hammond organ, guitar). Wish I was at the NYC show. Awesome!

  3. Julie C.

    12 February, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Russ Hastings is a doll. I’ll take him over Paul Weller any day of the week! Smooch!!!

  4. Mike Bellwood

    12 February, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Nice words Tony and echoed many of my sentiments. I too closed my eyes several times during the set and could almost transform myself back to Brid. Spa Royal Hall in ’79 or any of the half dozen times I saw them in that period. It was a blistering show and one I will never forget. I did not miss Weller but did get a renewed appreciation of his songwriting skills.

    Good to see you again too after 20 years!!

  5. 12 February, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Tony – all the guilt I had in the last two years now with driving you up the wall about first The Gift and then FTJ has left me – I’m more pleased that YOU out of all my old Jam fan friends have seen them and liked them as I know how much The Jam meant to you – to all of us back then (and have carried that admiration all our lives) I’m especially pleased you took to Russ and I’ve not read someone put so well about the job he has done. Russ and Dave like all our friends were indeed Jam fans and had the same Jam experience as us! I’ve always said to people you HAVE to go and see them – close your eyes and you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference! Thank you for a wonderful review and for pointing that out – also for taking us back to what The Jam meant! I’ve read so many reviews from journalists who haven’t even been gracious enough to have seen them before they gave their prejudice opinions!

    Next time you’re in the UK time it for a FTJ gig because I’dlove to be at one with you and a few of our mates

  6. cindy

    12 February, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    fairness is in short supply when it come to journalism today, and I feel that you’ve accomplished both fairness and honesty in your review…with a bit of mod longing to boot! Did the 3 FTJ shows I’ve seen make me “long for the day”?? Of course. But even though the audience was in their mid 40’s (primarily), if you closed your eyes and sang your ‘ead off, you were there in the day…and it was bloody great. [=

  7. Rob

    12 February, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Tony. A real pleasure to read your review.

    As you say for the past 25 years it has been ‘the incredible shrinking
    Rick and Bruce’ – indeed many people must have believed that Paulo
    Hewitt was actually in The Jam. The loyalty of Jam fans though, to them both, is very heart-warming in a cynical age.

    Hope reports of Paul threatening legal action are unfounded though I’m
    afraid it’s probably true. Very sad that bit.

  8. 12 February, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Excellent Tony! Enjoyed that very much!

  9. The Lovegod

    13 February, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Thanks for the review Tony, absolutely cracking.

    I’ve just got in from work on an admittedly beautiful New Zealand summer’s evening and cracked open a bottle South Island Sauvignon Blanc (Wish You Were Here!) before sitting down in front of the computer for my regular half hour or so of surfing my favourite sites the net.

    I thought your review was, as we have come to expect, balanced, insightful and from the heart as well as from your unbiased journalistic point of view. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it was from your perspective, the perspective of someone who was close to the band in the halcyon days and to a lesser extent (simply because life gets in the way) up until now.

    I am sure that some of us who post regularly on ijamming and are consistently and no doubt at times annoyingly over zealous in our professions of devotion for the Holy Trinity of Paul, Bruce and Rick can cause you to grind your teeth at times (well that’s how I imagine it anyway!) but thanks for your post.

    I am looking forward with great anticipation to From The Jam’s Auckland gig here in three weeks or so and have no doubt I will enjoy the night…whether I feel the same as you do about the absence of PW remains to be seen.

    I’m not sure I’ll close my eyes and be transported back to Hammersmith Palais, Brixton Academy, the Michael Sobell Sports Centre or Wembley Arena but regardless of that I hope I get the chance to say a heartfelt thanks to 2/3 of the band that chronicled my youth and that of thousands of others in a far more personal way than any other band have come close to.

    In the words of X Moore, “Keep On Keeping On!”

  10. julius

    13 February, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Tony,
    great, honest review. Your words really express the same feelings of british fans I have spoken. FTJ does a great job. Spot-on remark about the Jam’s histroy being rewritten as an oneman affair. I have always had great respect for Rick and Bruce; if you see their musical qualities you just know they must have had a real influence on the Jam’s sound and music back in the old days. It was hard for them in 1982 : the Jam were just heading for worldfame and were getting big here in Holland and other european countries and then split. Hope FTJ will play Paradiso-Amsterdam soon, it was their fave live spot

  11. 14 February, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Tony,
    Couldn’t agree more. I saw their show in San Francisco a couple of weeks back and their performance was — there’s no other word but thrilling. Not a word that I expected would come to mind either, since reunions rarely do it for me (they’re either stuck in a past that we’ve all moved on from, which is bad, or they’ve moved on when we want it to be like the past, which is bad as well) particularly reunions without the frontman.
    Then, the Jam was always, in my mind, as much about the rhythm section as the vocals; or maybe I’m biased since Weller was, shall we say, less than charming when I interviewed him back in the day, I think for Sounds magazine, and the other two so accomodating, that it’s possible I’d subconsciously longed for a Weller-free Jam. Naw, it wasn’t that at all. They just sounded great, the songs held up magnificently, and, exactly as you did, I was very impressed by Russell’s dexterity at walking the tightrope between being a frontman and being an enabler, doing the job gloriously without claiming the glory. Whatever they call themselves, it was a fine, fine show.
    best
    Sylvie Simmons

  12. The Lovegod

    16 February, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    “Bruce wisely doesn’t attempt the vertical splits of which he was often freeze-framed by Pennie Smith and her ilk.’

    Errr, he might not have at The Gramercy Theater show Tony but the tour photos show he’s still more than able to attempt a nightly cross between Townshendesque scissor kicks and Fosbury Flops!

  13. 18 February, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I really appreciate everyone’s comments. Thanks so much. I’m still getting over how good the show was. Lovegod, when I saw Bruce afterwards, all he could say was “The stage was really slippery tonight,” and I thought this was somewhat irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things, but now I realize that if he had prefaced that comment with the words, “I would like to have done more of the vertical splits of which I am still capable BUT…” then it would all have made sense!

    Cheers

    Tony

  14. 22 February, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Superb review Tony and you are so right about Russ Hastings – top guy in such a difficult role. I saw FTJ in Sheffield just before Christmas. On the way I said to my wife “We are too old for this – we’ve been married 26 years, and it will not be the same sound” Wrong on both counts. Who cared about my 46 years I was 17 again, and the sound, well the minute they started with “All Mod Cons” I was back in Bradford in 1978.
    Age did have a bearing though – I could only pogo for 3 songs in succession and boy did the knees hurt the next day. But it was worth it.

  15. Denise Alexander

    27 February, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    hey Tony … like my fellow postees, I want to thank you for the thoughtful, spot-on review of From The Jam. I saw the Gift at the 100 Club in 06 and formed a similar opinion on Russell’s talent and the overall dynamic of the band. A gamble for all concerned, and what a top result.

    The show … hell, it was fun! Yes, it’d been a while since I’d tipped a bottle of water over my face to cool down, and been hoarse from singing, really singing. But my excitement was more than simple delight at being with my ancient tribe in the 100 Club. It was a thrill to hear those songs receive an intelligent airing, and Rick’s presence represented more than a tick of credibility to a ‘tribute’ band. It certainly felt as though he, and they, had the right to power through that set list. During the show, my personal thought-track was similarly joyous, not one of melancholic nostalgia. I grinned as I could picture Kate and I sitting in our school uniforms, album sleeves all over the floor, earnestly discussing Little Boy Soldiers and the futility of war, then jumping up to dance wildly to Eton Rifles.

    Later in 06 I saw Weller at the London Forum, and that too was a heady night for me. (As I live in Sydney, I haven’t seen Weller live for years, as the old git still refuses to travel this far). It was a superlative, top show, and of course Weller has the luxury of a catalogue that extends way beyond 82. Strangely, but like others on this blog, I felt quite content with not having seen all 3 together in a reformed Jam band.

    I am seeing FTJ in a couple of weeks in Sydney – 14 March. They’re just doing the one Sydney show which is a surprise, though they’re playing a reasonable size venue (most bands that roll through here try to milk whatever they can – sideshows, festivals etc – due to whacky geography & economics). I’ll report back!

    cheers all, Denise

  16. 28 February, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    btw I see the myspace site for FTJ is filed under ‘The Gift’. Don’t you think The Gift is a better name overall for the band? Maybe some marketing bod decreed that ‘jam’ had to appear somewhere.

    I’m looking forward to seeing FTJ in a fortnight .. and I had a brilliant time dancing around at a very tight, sweaty ‘Specialbeat’ show last month. However, let not this flurry of quality activity lull us into welcoming every reconstituted, no-new-material band who’ve managed to scrounge some Garuda air tickets and a dorm at the Bondi backpackers for their summer hols. We must remain discerning, us antipodeans (so, yes , Lovegod, that’s you and I).

    I’ve just noticed that Sham 69 are about to grace these shores (minus Jimmy Pursey? the publicity’s not mentioning that small point!).
    Good grief .. enough already! (and someone send back Arcade Fire).

    There … all off my chest! ta ~d

  17. 29 February, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Denise

    you wrote:

    “btw I see the myspace site for FTJ is filed under ‘The Gift’. Don’t you think The Gift is a better name overall for the band? Maybe some marketing bod decreed that ‘jam’ had to appear somewhere.”

    I was thinking the same thing myself… The Gift is a way better band name BUT it sounds like a tribute group and would surely have been perceived that way. (Plus, tickets would not have sold so well.) When Bruce came on board they advertised themselves as “Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton from the Jam” and I believe the promoters said “that’s a mouthful; how about we just focus on the last two words?” A very small compromise was made the rest is minor history.

    It’s not a great name but then, when you think about it, neither was that of the original band!

    Enjoy the show – Rick has never been to Australia,

    Cheers

    Tony

  18. Mark

    2 March, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Great review Tony! Great responses too! It’s obvious there’s so many folks whose lives were forever deeply changed by The Jam. I’ve got my own memories of gigs in Paris, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Wales & Liverpool. Memories of growing up as a fan of the best band I could ever have hoped to have been a fan of. There was/is such pride and integrity in being associated with The Jam. Unique.
    The idea of a Bruce & Rick tribute band (as some have decided to call FTJ) potentially damaging those priceless memories with under par performances wasn’t a particularly comfortable one. I’ve seen several Jam tribute bands and have generally enjoyed them. But FTJ were triffling with something always close to my heart and I didn’t know if I should stay well clear. Needless to say the temptation was too great but it was with some trepidation I ventured to Liverpool’s Carling Academy last year. Most of all I didn’t want them to be crap. From the opening In the City riff the shackles were off. To hear those magnificent songs played live again with such passion, sincerity and more was so uplifting. I’ve seen FTJ twice now and have thoroughly enjoyed both gigs. Most of the first show I spent watching Bruce but found in the 2nd I was also being drawn to Russ. Your comments on him are well put. Almost an impossible job to fill PW’s shoes but Russ does the job the songs require. Very impressive indeed. Could PW now give those songs the justice they deserve? Sadly, given his reported attitude to Bruce & Rick, I guess it doesn’t matter anyway.
    Good luck FTJ! It was brilliant to show Bruce & Rick just how much you mean to us and how Jam fans have never forgotten your significant role.

  19. Denise Alexander

    4 March, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Agree, Mark. Great to see Russ getting a good rap from this site – potentially his toughest crowd! And the bloke’s got good hair (how on earth did we ever forgive Weller for so many dodgy dos?) ;) d

  20. 4 March, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Denise – hello… It was great that night at The 100 Club – still got all the treasured pics! Good to see you and of course our Jen. The reason FTJ’s myspace still says The Gift in the url is because we didn’t want to lose all the previous friends by starting a new myspace from scratch as really The Gift fans helped to make this all happen – so it was easier just to change the name on the profile and I re-designed the page and continued from there.

  21. macky

    6 March, 2008 at 6:14 am

    I was 16 & just about to leave school in Glasgow when they broke up and never had the chance to see them live(although I have seen some recorded footage on ‘you tube’), but they played some real unforgetable songs which sort of got me through my teens…. I emigrated to Australia in the early `90s and just last week………..lo and behold didnt an ad jump out at me saying “from the Jam” touring NZ and Australia for the first time ever

    Its taken 26 years but I finally get to see my heroes live at lub Capitol in Perth western Australia on 18th March, so…. BRING IT ON!!!!!!!

  22. 9 March, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Saw FTJ last night in Auckland NZ. What a performance!!

    As a thin callow teenage NZer who emigrated to the UK in ’77 The JAM will always be the soundtrack to “my generation”. From first sighting them at The Electric Circus in ’77 and subsequently about 30 times (highlight being a festival ijn Saddleworth out the back of Oldham), till their farewell tour of ’82 at Blackpool Opera House they were the greatest!!!

    From the opening chords of “in the city” where we rushed the stage to joyously dance, sing, punch the air and grin manically they were outstanding. Bruce Foxton looks great and his bass playing has never been better. Rick is still a tremendous drummer and Russel Hastings was brilliant.

    See this band and roar out those anthemic songs once more. Let the nostalgia wash over you and ENJOY.

    For any aussies reading this get to their gigs, you won’t ever forget them.

    LIFE IS A DRINK AND YOU GET DRUNK WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG!!!!

  23. 13 March, 2008 at 12:40 am

    I sit here reading your review getting goosebumps just reading the names of the songs, that weren’t just a part of my youth…they were my youth. 24 hrs away from seeing FTJ in Sydney I am now full of anticipation and excitement.

    Unfortunately I never had the chance to see the Jam as they never came to Australia…god knows my brother and I kept living in hope!…so I wont be able to close my eyes and remember how the Jam were live…but I might just close them for a second and remember the countless hours in my bedroom singing along at top volume to every word, staring at the album covers and reading everything about the Jam I could find…hey, I even painted the whole wall of my bedroom with the “In the City” album cover.

    I too aren’t usually a fan of old bands getting back to together, although I did enjoy the Special Beat…Its good to keep looking forward but an occasional glance back helps you to remember how you became the person you are and with out the music of so many bands from that era, I doubt a teenager from the suburbs of Adelaide would have learnt so much about the world.

    Can’t wait to add to this nostalgic rant once I have seen FTJ tomorrow night and thanks for such a great perspective of what was and what are the Jam and FTJ.

    “In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you….”

  24. Denise Alexander

    13 March, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Gov’nor – and any other Sydneysiders going to the Forum tonight – maybe we’ll cross paths at the pub next to the Forum, the Fox & Lion, around 7.30. I’ll be in a yellow dress (but not holding a carnation!). We can have a beer and muse on the fact that the only publicity this show has received today is one line in Metro, describing Bruce and Rick as ‘punk rockers!! Enjoy the show.

  25. erik Bower

    16 March, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Well written and fair review.
    I just went to see From The Jam in Sydney.
    It was on the one hand what I expected – a load of ex pats wanting to relive their youth and on the other, after the wierdness fo the misplaced context had died, was also a beautiful experience that I had not anticipated.

    The context was very odd. I mean for a start its 25 + years on I was 10 in 1982. I got into the music mainly after they had split up and so did not have the chance to see them live. Secondly it’s not thaterite England and skin heads over here so I was wondering whether some of the songs were going to have any relevance. That was all swiftly forgotten as soon as In The City opened up just like on “Dig The New Breed”.
    It was the longest I’d spent not thinking about sex or women in a long time. I was lost in days before girls, the web, video phones, mortgages and kids – in football and music, in innocence.

    What struck me was how good it was. I mean the songs are brilliant and so many of them. Ghosts was always a massive favourite of mine and I don’t reckon I was the only one there whose heart was fully open ready to hear it. I starte dmy music career by listening to The Jam I remembered and learnt to play the drums to those records. I was amazed to see how Rick was so measured since the recordings made me think he was ponding the drums, maybe he was, maybe he’s older and pacing himself. I knew about the cabinet making but had not retained the information and found it particularly weird to rediscover that fact as I am about to do exactly the same thing again!

    Your observations about Russ were also spot on. What a difficult balance he has to pull off and yet, yes, he is convincing, not overfriendly, not unconfident either, proficient and not a total copy.
    He should be very proud of pulling it off since I was also a massive Style Council and Paul Weller fan after The Jam too.

    I closed my eyes a couple of times but to be honest I was more into taking it in as it was and that is probably the best that Russ can hope for.

    You just can’t be Paul Weller unless you are – just like I can’t be James Brown – even if I can dance better !

    Bruce has WAY more personality than I ever imagined.

    What a great night. I missed my brother, it was a reconfirmation of how important music was and is in my life. I was not alone on that – you don’t really get that going to see the Black Eyed Peas! At least not in my opinion.

    Erik

  26. Roy Srodzinski

    24 March, 2008 at 4:23 am

    I was just looking for reviews of the brisbane concert when i read tonys review and i must say i couldnt have expressed my feelings any better, went to see FTJ march 12 and i dont know if having been here for 2 years and coming from the same part of the world (feltham in middx) as the band and maybe missing the old country i can honestly say it was the best night of my life as we sang solidly for and hour and a half and danced non stop even though i thought i would collapse my adrelanine kept me going as my 46year old sweat covered body became a sixteen year old again Looking at various reviews i conlude that every show has been pretty much as special as ours as well as the fact i never got round to seeing them live before splitting which i had always regretted , i hope to god that they tour again and me and my wife and ex pat freinds can see the greatest group in the world again and get to thank them for coming to oz this time

  27. David Steffans

    25 April, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Living outside the UK nowadays, and being far too yound to see The Jam first time around, I made a three hour journey to Brighton last December to be there 25 years after the original line-up played the same venue. It was a great night, and Bruce was on top form – despite idiots “in the crowd” throwing beer at him….

    I am really looking forward to any new album. Bruce and Rick are great musicians, if not great songwriters – Smithers-Jones the exception. But they don’t need Weller to be sucessful anymore. Russell Hastings does a fine job up the front, and if anything, having two guitars (rather than one in The Jam days!) makes the songs sounds much better live.

    My only disappointment was that they didn’t play Funeral Pyre or Batman Theme from In The City – two songs that Weller did not write himself!

    And any Weller diehards who are critical of FTJ should consider if a Style Council reunion (with Mick Talbot and Steve White) would be as successful. Somehow, I think not.

  28. Ian connolly

    7 May, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks for a great impartial (if that is the word?) review. We’ve caught them twice in Liverpool and now when I look at my girlfriend, she knows what I meant by there will never be another band like the Jam – I was wrong – FTJ tick all the boxes! My girlfriend is now an FTJ fan to the core! Good luck to FTJ and long may they continue!!!

  29. Michael Beumer

    13 May, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Just wanted to put my two cents worth. I was at the show in Chicago this past February and I couldn’t agree more! I misses seeing them in’82(I was only 14 and lived, breathed,ate everything JAM. I met my fav Bruce and Rick at FTJ in Chicago before their gig, but waiting ’til after they finished eating their dinner. Truly a night to remember. Hope to see them again. Thanks for the review. This 41 year old felt young again! Glad there are more people like me who enjoyed one of the most inspirational bands of the day. Just wish I could translate my excitement for The Jam and FTJ to other unknowing music fans!

  30. tootie the modman

    29 June, 2008 at 5:00 am

    as a ageing mod i saw the jam countless times but one night will live forever newcastle city hall 1980 the lads burst into to be someone and the place went mental even thou it was nearly 30yrs ago the hair still stands up on the back of my neck thinking about it.wat was special about them passion raw passion the likes ive never seen or ever will see again

  31. Andrea

    17 September, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Really appreciated the in-depth honest review.

    I was on the fence about seeing them at a Septmber 2008 show at the TLA in Philly. I have had heartache in my aging seeing my “old” favorites again as some of the bands just don’t live up to me memories.

    I’ll be taking my 12 year old along. It will be great to share “my” bands which influenced so many of “his” bands!

  32. neil watkins

    16 January, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    i was at one of the secret show’s at sheerwater youthclub around 1980 .the purple hearts were the the support band .one of their guitars looked like a jigsaw puzzle.hence the single.my lifes a jigsaw.As far as i recall the secret show’s were charity gigs for sheerwater youth club. ive got such a good memory of the gig as the stage wasnt big.with the almost homemade black on white painted jam emblem. Thick of thieves sticks in my mind .also paul and bruce covered in sweat in their white shirts and ties.thanks for one of the most memorable nights of my life! If i close my eyes i can transform myself back to that night 29 yrs ago.I consider myself so lucky.By the way my girlfriend brought us the tickets from Maxwell’s music shop located near woking police station in woking for 5 pounds each!

  33. 6 June, 2011 at 9:52 am

    watched the jam at liverpool empire john cooper clarke was supporting,but the saddleworthjazz festival,sticks in my mind most remember driving into the valley on a vespa and seeing a big white marquee,like something out of camelot! hundreds of scooters parked up everywhere,the place was buzzing,remember entering the “big-fuck-off-tent” and there was a wall of marshall speakers/amps all down one side blasting the temptations out through,the bands sound system,and all the scooter lads were soulie dancing round “big”piles of discarded parkas and helmets,like wimen do with their handbags!what a night anyone remember the fun and games outside with the riot police ?(spg)looking for aggro with the lancs/yorks miners ktf glenn wigan bluebeats

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