From The Jam + Kartica - Holmfirth Picturedrome, 5th October 2013 4

From The Jam + Kartica – Holmfirth Picturedrome, 5th October 2013

The public gets what the public wants. That’s entertainment.

From the Jam entertained a packed house at the wonderful Holmfirth Picturedrome last Saturday night. They gave the public exactly what they wanted: a carbon copy of the All Mod Cons LP and all the hits for £20. That’s value for money. Even in Yorkshire.

It is a mixed crowd tonight – men and women; young and, shall we say, mature – not just pot bellied balding men who frequent these occasions. Indeed few of those pressed against the barrier at the front of the stage could have even been born when The Jam disbanded in 1982. What is especially heart warming is that they know all the words to EVERY song. That’s good parenting.

Support band is Kartica, a five piece from Sheffield. They’ve been together for five years and are tightly honed outfit with a mid-nineties sound based heavily on Oasis and, to a lesser extent, The Stone Roses (the bassist really dresses the part). Their set is packed with short, guitar-driven numbers overlaid by Mat Hook’s gruff vocals. ‘All Yours’, their second single, is an early stand out but there is a tendency for the rest of the songs to blur into one another. The band is at its best when stretching out, changing the tempo and incorporating some brief solos. They save their best to last: ‘Hard To Find’. Guitars are more prominent, melodically its more interesting and there is a decent chorus too. Their big brash sound goes down very well with the crowd…there’s no wandering off to the bar tonight. The band members are clearly delighted with the reception.

Hard To Find video

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So onto the evening’s main event. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of All Mod Cons, From the Jam are playing 35 dates across the UK sensibly spread over 4 months. Bruce Foxton, the original Jam bassist, is joined by Russell Hastings (guitar, vocal) and Mark Brzezicki (ex Big Country on drums).

Bruce looks great. Skinny, dapper in a top class suit and striped shirt, he is quite the frontman. He’s lost none of his original moves and is clearly not only in it for the money. They kick off with ‘All Mod Cons’ and play the album through according to the original track listing. This means we get at least three track never performed by the original band (‘Fly’, ‘The Place I Love’ and ‘English Rose’). The latter works least well. A pretty acoustic love song, it feels out of place and rushed. Russell looks glad when it is over and done with. Leave this one to the audience to sing in future; they did a great job.
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The first forty minutes are a facsimile of the record which is a pity. If there are variations then they are too subtle for this reviewer. Stand out is ‘It’s Too Bad’ (terrific bass, Bruce) and the monumental ‘Tube Station’ (‘I’ve a little money and a takeaway curry…’). What is not to like.

Sadly the posse of pot bellied balding men (yes, they are here) gets out of hand. Exuberant merriment is one thing but wild barging, fists flying and glasses lobbed onto the stage is out of order. Given the very light security available, Bruce thankfully takes control threatening ‘one more glass and we’ll be off’. It does the trick for a while.

The sound, especially at the start of the set, is not as sharp as Bruce’s suit. In fact its decidedly shaky perhaps as a result of a sound check cut short by an horrendous accident earlier in the day. By the time we are done with All Mod Cons the clarity has improved and ‘Slowdown’ is delivered with a crisp high octane energy. ‘When You’re Young’ features impressive leaping about and a cool bass run before Bruce takes the lead vocal on his own Jam composition – ‘Smithers-Jones’; a song featured frequently during his fifteen year stint with Stiff Little Fingers.

‘Number Six’ from Foxton’s 2012 CD Back In the Room is followed by the earliest Jam number of the night ‘Non-Stop Dancing’ dedicated to Wilko Johnson who is ‘doing very well defying science’.  As the band hit the home straight the audience go ballistic during ‘Strange Town’ and ‘A Town Called Malice’ during which Bruce and Russell share a microphone.

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Encores are ‘Eton Rifles’ and the glorious ‘Beat Surrender’.

There were never any mod cons about the night’s featured album (check the cover) or about The Jam. They generated a cluster of stellar songs but they were never quite as interesting as The Clash or as exciting as the Sex Pistols. It was a fun night; a nostalgic night. Most everyone at the Picturedrome knew that The Jam had come to the end of the road and that Paul Weller (he had to get a mention) is never going to resurrect his boyhood band. So enjoy From The Jam for what they are. Hats off to the fabulous Mr Foxton!.
Now when we are going to get that Style Council reunion….?

Setlist: All Mod Cons; To Be Someone; Mr Clean; David Watts; English Rose; In the Crowd; Billy Hunt; It’s Too Bad; Fly; The Place I Love; ‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street; Down In the Tube Station At Midnight; Slowdown; When You’re Young; Butterfly Collector; Smithers- Jones; Number Six; Non Stop Dancing; Start!; Strange Town; A Town Called Malice; That’s Entertainment; Eton Rifles; Beat Surrender.

Note: The evening was somewhat marred by a bad accident that occurred earlier that day. A man fell from the balcony at the front of the Picturedrome while attending to promotional banners. He sustained serious injury. The town was closed while the air ambulance made a highly skilled landing. On stage both bands wished him a speedy recovery as do we now.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.