Two-thirds of Britain’s defining Mod Revival band took to the Academy stage last week, but without the Modfather himself, could they deliver? Self-confessed superfan, Brian Flanagan was there…
Being an obsessive follower of all things Paul Weller since my introduction to The Jam in 1979, it was with some trepidation that I entered the Carling Academy for From The JamÃ¢ÂÂs second sell-out gig at the venue in six months.
What would the night hold for someone who had attended The JamÃ¢ÂÂs farewell concert at the Royal Court in 1982? Would the music stand the test of time and could Bruce and Rick deliver the raw passion that was a Jam concert?
The toilets provided the first clue; in as far as that for the first time in my living memory, the good lady wife emerged from them ahead of me! While the ladies were virtually empty – the gents were awash with testosterone and packed with 40-something males resplendent in Fred Perry and Lonsdale Ã¢ÂÂ all eagerly anticipating a taste of their teenage years. And they were not to be disappointed.
For those who donÃ¢ÂÂt know Ã¢ÂÂ FTJ includes two thirds of The JamÃ¢ÂÂs final line-up in Bruce Foxton (bass) and Rick Buckler (drums). However, this reincarnation is a four-piece band with the additional talents of Russell Hastings (guitar and lead vocals) and Dave Moore (guitar and keyboards). The crowd was certainly up for a good night, with the support DJ stoking up the atmosphere with a number of mod classics from The Who and the Small Faces. But could the band deliver the goods?
The answer was a resounding yes from the moment they entered the stage to belt out three opening numbers from the classic album All Mod Cons Ã¢ÂÂ including an excellent version of To Be Someone.
HastingsÃ¢ÂÂ voice stood up to scrutiny surprisingly well and the next 90 minutes flew by as the crowd savoured favourites such as Strange Town, ThatÃ¢ÂÂs Entertainment, Eton Rifles and Going Underground.
They were also treated to Pretty Green from Sound Affects which Mark Ronson has recently sampled on his hit Version album.
The band seemed genuinely moved by the reception they received Ã¢ÂÂ and the crowd were rewarded by an encore that included Down in the Tube Station (complete with London Underground background noise) and a final offering of Town Called Malice.
The ecstatic crowd trooped out sweaty and happy but the night left me with mixed emotions for a number of reasons Ã¢ÂÂ but mainly because you canÃ¢ÂÂt review FTJ without using the Ã¢ÂÂWÃ¢ÂÂ word at some point.
Bruce and Rick have managed to turn back the years in impressive style, but you canÃ¢ÂÂt ignore the fact that they are missing the band’s most important ingredient Ã¢ÂÂ namely singer and principal song-writer Paul Weller.
The Jam broke up in acrimonious circumstances at the height of their popularity as the UKÃ¢ÂÂs dominant band Ã¢ÂÂ and their loyal fans have patiently waited a quarter of a century hoping that they would reform.
Weller has stuck to his word though and itÃ¢ÂÂs not to be Ã¢ÂÂ and from my perspective Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs too late now. Anoraks amongst the crowd will have noted that of the 25 songs in FTJÃ¢ÂÂs set list Ã¢ÂÂ only five have been performed by Weller as a solo artist.
Perhaps middle age will mellow the Modfather (donÃ¢ÂÂt bet on it), but for the time being, From The Jam undoubtedly offer the best opportunity to hear the music of The Jam live. Definitely one to recommend Ã¢ÂÂ I wonder if my boating blazer still fits?
Set list: All Mod Cons, To Be Someone, ItÃ¢ÂÂs Too Bad, The Modern World, Pretty Green, David Watts, Butterfly Collector, Girl On The Phone, News of The World, Little Boy Soldiers, Private Hell, ThatÃ¢ÂÂs Entertainment, Smithers-Jones, In The Crowd, Running On The Spot, When YouÃ¢ÂÂre Young, Start, ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street, Strange Town, Eton Rifles, Going Underground, Down In The Tube Station, In The City, The Gift, Town Called Malice.