Prince of Wales, St Kilda
I am a big fan of the Jam; they rate in my top three bands and depending on what mood I’m in, they are my favourite band. Not only that, they are a big influence on my music and a motivation to get into music in the first place. I had always resigned the band to the ‘bands I’d love to have seen but know I never will’ list stored away at the back of my mind, so imagine my surprise when nestled amongst the plethora of reformations recently I noticed that they were reforming, well, sort of. From the Jam (I assume the name is due to legal reasons) are two thirds of the Jam, Bruce Foxton (Bass) and Rick Buckler (Drums), without songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, front man and (lets be blunt) the most famous Paul Weller. I have always thought that the story of The Jam’s rhythm section is one of the saddest in Rock&Roll history, from being in one of the most successful bands of the late 70’s / early 80’s they were royally (or should we say royalty) shafted by Weller and their manager (Weller’s father) almost immediately ending up back in crappy jobs or on the dole, I believe that they were a competent three piece, not just a talented songwriter with two other guys and that Weller’s treatment of them was inexcusable. When the reunion was announced Paul Weller was approached but apparently his reaction was “Over my dead body”, so I was intrigued to know how the band would replace him. Well, they replaced him with two people, in the form of Russell Hastings (Guitar and Vocals) and Dave Moore (Guitar and keyboards) from Jam tribute band, the Gift, whom Rick Buckler actually played with for a period of time. There is a hint of sadness to the whole idea but it would be as close as I ever got to the real thing so I donned my best mod suit and headed off to St Kilda. Firstly I was struck by the encouraging range of ages in the crowd; there were a fair amount of beefy and balding middle-aged men, but also a smattering of youthful faces (including me!) enjoying songs as old as them. More encouraging was the quality of the band, the four-piece line up creates a bigger sound more reminiscent of the Jam’s recorded output than their live sound, you lose the original feel but hear the famous songs recreated faithfully. Russell Hastings does an amazing Paul Weller impression, his accent is impeccable, possessing the same spitting and arrogant attitude as the 20-year-old Modfather, he is either an astonishing actor or is another son of Woking (Weller’s home town). The remainder of band are still full of vim and vigour, Bruce Foxton pulls off leaps and scissor kicks still as lithe as he ever was, Rick Buckler looks as mean as in his youth, barely lifting his glare from behind his drum kit. After 90 minutes of still fresh and relevant songs the band leave the stage to rapturous applause and serve a reminder that if you’ve still got it then why not flaunt it, even if you are missing a seemingly essential member.