The reformative fraction, From The Jam, consisting of The Jam’s original bassist, Bruce Foxton, took to Leeds University Union’s Stylus as part of the 35thanniversary celebrations of the original band’s final studio album, The Gift.
In the high excitement that builds prior to the gig, my friend and I exchange predictions on the sea of bowl haircuts and bald heads we expect to see across the venue – much to our amusement, we were not let down. Yet this seemingly insignificant discussion foreshadows the night ahead; it suggests the compelling nostalgia and physical deterioration endured through the toils of time, both amounting to an inconsolable grappling with a lost past.
The vehemence of vocalist Russell Hastings, accompanied by the relentless energy of Foxton, kicks off the set in traditional foot-stomping style with ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight’ and ‘In The City’, spliced by a rendition of the up-tempo Kinks’ tune, ‘David Watts’. After so many decades, spanning double my own lifetime, it is remarkable to see these songs executed with such fresh and invigorating passion.
As the set drives on, however, it comes to my attention that I am, in fact, the youngest person in attendance amongst a predominantly middle-aged audience – a fact that absolutely baffles me. As the band plough through such all-time classics as ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘Going Underground’ and ‘Town Called Malice’ – songs which I’ve been waiting the majority of my life to bop my shoes off to – there is an overbearing sense that I am grappling with a past beyond my recognition, that I am 40 years too late.
Maybe this is not such a bad thing though. After all, current pop culture seems to disengage the older generations evermore, so the chance for them to go crazy over the much-adored soundtrack of their childhood is a warming sight to see. Yet it is quite simply a shame for The Jam that, as such significant cultural figures from Thatcherite Britain, an opportunity goes amiss to share their music across the generations.