21 January 2023 (gig)
After a challenging year due to serious health issues for Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings of From the Jam, the New Year got off to a healthy new Start! for the band at the Cambridge Corn Exchange.
Back on form after overcoming a difficult year, the dynamic duo were firing on all cylinders for their Beat Surrender 40th Anniversary tour, hot on the recent success of their latest album The Butterfly Effect. Released in October, Bruce and Russell’s third studio album received great reviews and has already achieved two number ones in the Heritage Charts with tracks Lula and She Said winning over the public.
Ramping up the high-octane punk rock energy before From the Jam performed were the Buzzcocks, led by original band member, Steve Diggle. Still exuding the punk attitude circa the band’s Pete Shelley days, the Buzzcocks had the packed audience pogoing to much-loved hits from What Do I Get?, Fast Cars, Why Can’t I Touch it, to their 1978 much-loved hit, Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), bringing back heaps of nostalgia to the audience.
Grateful to be back on stage, Russell Hastings told the audience: “I’d like to thank all those well-wishers from last year, it was an unusual year. We’re in a lot better health now, thanks to the NHS services.
“When I was lying in an ambulance on the way to hospital after having a heart attack there wasn’t any private health care helping me out at the time, it was people from the ambulance service and the wonderful NHS, who deserve to be paid a lot more than they do!” This was met by rapturous cheers and applause from fans.
The audience were treated to a whistlestop tour of hits plucked from all six of The Jam’s studio albums, spanning from their debut album, In the City (1977) to The Gift, their final album released in 1982, the year of their farewell Beat Surrender tour.
Hits from their debut album included the eponymous track In the City and Away from the Numbers, both bringing the audience right back to The Jam’s early punk beginnings.
Among the gems performed from the brilliant All Mod Cons album of 1978 were To Be Someone (Didn’t we Have a Nice Time), The Kink’s cover, David Watts, It’s Too Bad, Mr Clean and the mosh-pit stomper, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, which always propels the From the Jam moshers into fifth gear!
In an homage to the1979 album Setting Sons, Russell reminded the audience to “get your dancing feet on” for the Motown classic Heat Wave which has been covered by The Who and The Jam, among many others. This was followed by the foot stomping Strange Town which no doubt gave the audience ‘blisters on their feet’, as the song’s lyrics go,
Much-loved favourites from the 1980 album Sound Affects included Pretty Green and Start!, The Jam’s second number one in 1980, which is always a sure-fire hit with the audience.
Another perennial hit with the From the Jam audience is The Butterfly Collector – originally released on the B-side of Strange Town in 1979, a melodic and powerful song which is always gets the crowd responding.
As always with From the Jam gigs, the time flies too quickly and before you know it Russell, Bruce, Andy Fairclough (keyboards) and Mike Randon (drums) are heading off stage, before the encore. Saturday’s finale was as good as it gets, beginning with The Eton Rifles and swiftly followed by Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, both instantly creating a riot in the mosh pit!
The tempo was soon lowered with Ghosts, a beautiful song that in past years you would have thought only Paul Weller could do justice – that was until Russell came along. Russell continually shows the versatility of his voice, being able to turn on a sixpence, from delivering punk rock with attitude to a sensitive ballad, ably demonstrated with his own material with From the Jam, as seen in The Butterfly Effect and on previous albums Smash the Clock and Back in the Room.
Bruce packs as much of a punch nowadays as he ever did with The Jam, whose signature sound was down to his vibrant, inventive bass fret work. Bruce remains as polished, stylish and cool as ever and rightly deserves being continually polled as one of the ‘Best Bass Players in the World.’
This really was a fantastic showcase of the Jam legacy, performed with all the vim, vigor and class of the original records, such a treat for an audience of Jam fans, both old and young.
It wasn’t just the music with us Jam fans, it was the mod scene, the fashion and being part of a like-minded tribe. I’d always felt like a throwback to the 60s, loving the music and the fashion, so the mod revival was a natural fit for me. The style also never leaves us, as evidenced by all the parkas, Ben Shermans and Fred Perrys worn in the audience, it clearly sets the pattern for a lifetime!
That’s not to say we don’t appreciate new music – the band’s rendition of their recent number one Lula was well received by the audience and like a much-loved track, had us singing along already. Let’s hope they can schedule in some tours encompassing more of their new material in the future.
Thanks to From the Jam for giving us back a tiny slice of that early magic for just a couple of hours, it’s worth its weight in gold! Wishing Russell and Bruce and all the band continued good health and looking forward to seeing them again soon for another slice of music heaven!