From The Jam, Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Wednesday May 9
This could have been so dreadful. Were The Jam’s Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, both in their early fifties, ever going to be able to relive their former glories without Paul Weller, the band’s chief creative force? For a whole generation of music fans in the late Seventies and early Eighties, The Jam were the band. No other graduates of the original punk revolution – no, not even The Clash – came close to matching their popular success. That’s one hell of a legacy to risk flushing down the toilet.
Right from the introductory riff of debut single In The City, which opened the eighty minute set, you knew that they were going to pull it off. Replacement singer/guitarist Russell Hastings had the unenviable task of filling Weller’s shoes, and he rose to the challenge magnificently, channelling the spirit of the songs without ever being overawed by the task in hand, or by lapsing into crude impersonation. This was to be no glorified tribute act.
Three songs in, and the Rescue Rooms were on fire. Six songs in, when the chants down the front switched from “We are the Mods!” to “Who needs Weller?”, the triumph was complete. What followed was pure unadulterated joy. One of the best British bands of all time, in an intimate sweaty venue, blasting out their best loved songs (Going Underground, That’s Entertainment, A Town Called Malice and all the rest) as if the past twenty-five years had never happened? You can’t ask for better than that.
Who needed Weller, indeed. If the grumpy Modfather himself had deigned to come on board, and the hype machine had gone into full throttle, we would have been herded into the cavernous Arena, only to have our memories carelessly trampled upon. Forget the “From”. Last night, we saw The Jam.