Review: From The Jam live at Keele SU

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At 63 years old, most plan on being retired with their slippers on and cup of tea in hand by 9pm. That is not the case for former The Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, who at 63 is still on stage playing songs he wrote over 40 years ago. Songs that were at the heart of the mod revival in the 70s and 80s and still loved today.

On Thursday 18 October, From The Jam were at Keele SU performing ‘All Mod Cons’ for the albums 40th anniversary. It was the third studio album from The Jam, and reached Number 6 in the UK official charts in November 1978.

Nine Below Zero frontman Dennis Greaves

Nine Below Zero frontman Dennis Greaves

Supporting From The Jam was London blues band Nine Below Zero. The band is eight members strong, complete with trumpet, saxophone and keys, but were performing as a quartet for the Keele show. “When you’ve been going for 40 years, it’s good to freshen things up,” said Dennis Greaves, the original frontman still leading the band at age 61. “We thought for the From The Jam tour the four-piece would suit.”

Since stepping onto the mod scene in the late 70s, the band built up a cult following in the 80s, and are still incredibly popular today. They played a selection of their hit tracks from the 80s, including Wipe Away Your Kiss and Doghouse. Ben Willis bass rumbled through the tracks, and Greaves mentioned how wonderful it was to have not one, but two amazing bassists performing at the SU. Mark Feltham’s harmonica skills stole the show as he harmonised with Greaves’ guitar and nailed bluesy solos. Greaves joked “He’s the only bloke I know who sucks and blows for a living,” and Feltham smirked as the audience laughed.

Stepping in on drums was Dennis’ son Sonny Greaves, and with a rock and roll dad like Dennis, he was bound to have blues in his bones. Despite not having 40 years’ experience in the industry like his dad, he made up for it in youthful spirit, attacking the kit throughout tracks older than he is.

The Jam are one of the biggest bands in British music history. From their debut in 1977 to their break up in 1982, the band produced 18 consecutive top 40 singles, including four number 1s. 40 years on and bassist Bruce Foxton is keeping it all alive with From The Jam. These hits are tracks that demand to be heard, and nobody wants a tribute band or cabaret act to do it.

Frontman Russell Hastings has been credited as the best man for the job, after working with Bruce, Rick Buckler (The Jam drummer) and Paul Weller on separate occasions. His knowledge and respect for the band makes him the perfect fit, alongside his Weller-esque haircut.

Bruce Foxton of From The Jam

Bruce Foxton of From The Jam

The band played All Mod Cons in full, from the title track all the way through to Down in the Tubestation at Midnight. They included their cover of David Watts by The Kinks as well as a beautiful acoustic rendition of English Rose, which received the biggest applause from the audience.

“And that was All Mod Cons” said Hastings, but the band were nowhere near finished yet. Despite only producing music for five years, The Jam had created a huge back-catalogue of anthems that the crowd were chanting to be sung. Bruce looked onto the crowd as a proud music veteran. He and his band were a huge part of British music history, and he was carrying it on for as long as he possibly could.

They continued to play hit tracks from the 70s and 80s mod revival, from A Town Called Malice and That’s Entertainment, to Saturdays Kids and News of the World. Never have I seen so many guitar changes in one set as Hastings switched between five guitars, and Foxton between two bass guitars.

It was towards the end of the set, when Foxton removed his suit jacket, that he really sunk his teeth into the set. He had remained quite modest throughout, but during the encore of The Eton Rifles and Going Underground, you could see Foxton’s younger, punkier self shine through.

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