A band without its original front man is usually something I would seek to avoid – but perhaps now I should rethink my stance.
The only remnant from the original band The Jam was bassist Bruce Foxton when he brought his “tribute” act ‘From The Jam’ to The Meres leisure centre on Friday night.
But despite being devoid of Paul Weller, after a song or two, the absence of the Modfather and original drummer Rick Buckler was soon forgotten.
Russ Hastings was as good a Weller replacement as you are likely to find and former Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki certainly knows his away around the skins.
The gig kicked off at 7.30pm and it was all done and dusted by a remarkably early 9pm – but the intervening 90 minutes were sheer bliss for any Jam fan.
The band began by playing the classic 1978 album All Mod Cons in its entirety, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of its release, starting with the short and snappy intro title track. They went through sequentially to the closing epic Down In The Tube Station At Midnight, by which time the sizeable crowd were also in good voice, having already sung along to David Watts, In The Crowd and Billy Hunt.
Next up was the fastest version of Larry Williams’s Slow Down I have ever heard, the track featuring on The Jam’s first album In The City.
They continued with renditions of big hits When You’re Young and Going Underground before slotting in a ‘From The Jam’ orginal called Number Six off their own album release, which blended in pleasingly well with the back catalogue material.
Another track off the In The City LP – Non-stop Dancing – was played in tribute to ailing British R&B legend Wilko Johnson, followed by more crowd pleasers such as Start!, Strange Town and Town Called Malice, and the set concluded with That’s Entertainment.
The band returned for an encore and pumped out the almost inevitable Eton Rifles, followed by Beat Surrender, before bowing out to their appreciative and knowledgeable audience – who were promised a return visit next year for the 35th anniversary tour of The Jam’s Setting Sons album. Bring it on!
Review by John Burgess