AT A time when pop nostalgia is so pervasive that even also-rans like Then Jerico can reform and muster something of a crowd, appetite for a Jam reunion remains high.
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Unfortunately for their keen bass player Bruce Foxton, his erstwhile frontman Paul Weller is too busy enjoying a successful solo career to entertain such a backward-looking enterprise, and even original drummer Rick Buckler has left the From The Jam line-up, to be replaced by Big Country sticksman Mark Brzezicki, with Russell Hastings completing this strange half-tribute outfit in the poor man’s Weller role.
The initial focus of this gig was a pretty functional run through The Jam’s debut album In The City to mark its 35th anniversary. Besides its more rudimentary punk fare, you could hear hints of the soul and rhythm ’n’ blues influences which marked The Jam out from their peers, while the hell-for-leather pub rock style of Dr Feelgood was evident on their cover of Larry Williams’ Slow Down.
The performance could only ever be as good as the album. In 1977, In The City was probably a shock to the system, but The Jam would go on to explore a more sophisticated and varied sound, not to mention greater lyrical eloquence, on later albums, as demonstrated to some degree by the second half of this set, which cherrypicked from the rest of their catalogue the likes of caustic but catchy satire Eton Rifles, a workmanlike That’s Entertainment and enigmatic B-side The Butterfly Collector.
A couple of new tracks stood up reasonably well in this company but were beside the point for a crowd who had come to revel in memories and pogo to Foxton’s crowning bassline on A Town Called Malice.