Sunday, February 03, 2008

This is the Modern World..again

Went to another "I remember when" gig last night - 'From the Jam', which is the Jam minus key component, lead singer Paul Weller. I was a huge Jam fan in my teens and was lucky enough to see them live at the big metal barn of the Kerrisdale Arena (if you go to the link, read the story on the left...I saw a lot of the stuff they reference and was too young to care about sound quality). The idea of going to see a reunion tour without Weller was a little ... embarrassing. But I read a few reviews of their shows elsewhere, and conned my musical glutton brother into coming along.

My biggest fear for this kind of 'reunion' thing is that no one will show up and I will just end up feeling bad for the band. Not quite sure why that crosses my mind as the turn out for reunion shows has a better chance of being high than for new acts, at least from what I've seen. I guess I'm projecting my own slight embarrassment at 'living in the past' onto the band. Anyhoo, no worries last night, which was a sell out.

The night started out with Hugh Cornwell, who has traded the Stranglers in for a young female bass player and drummer. It was a great set - lots of Stranglers and some of his newer stuff, all of which stood up well. What a character Cornwell is though - he's a bit like a slightly seedy, slightly dirty (and not in the muddy sense of the word) uncle, chatting sardonically with the initially shy Vancouver audience. The man scratched his nuts so many times that you wondered if a serious dose of Quellada was in order, but weirdly that was part of his charm. I shot a video of Stranglers classic Peaches - watch it here. I was disappointed they didn't play Golden Brown, but then I clued in they didn't have keyboards, so that wasn't really an option.

so...what about what remains of the Jam??

The Band: The place was packed by the time they came on. Russell Hastings is pinch hitting the Paul Weller slot in the band, and I've got to say he did an impressive job of sounding the part, and looking pretty snappy too. There is only one Paul Weller - no doubting that - but I actually didn't miss him as much as I had feared. They rolled through a lot of the Jam's catalogue and it sounded great. The original members (Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler) have aged well (maybe neither here nor there, but it does reduce the potential visual shock that age can bring), and they sounded great. They have also added another band member - guitar/keyboard/vocalist Dave Moore. They covered a lot of stuff - not everything I'd like to have heard, but I suspect that they may have been tailoring the set a bit to what works best for Russell Hasting's voice. Fair enough. Enough stuff was covered to make me happy. I have uploaded a whole slew (well, seven) videos here if you want to pretend you were there too.

The Audience:
As expected, the demographic was skewed towards those old enough to have seen the band the first time around. It was also skewed towards the male of the species. That being said, there were a healthy number of 20-somethings there, which gives me hope for the human race somehow. When I've mentioned the Jam the 20-somethings I know have looked at me with a blankness I have previously only seen in ruminants , so it was a relief to realize they are not all pod-people (sorry, switched from cows to body-snatchers...and my apologies to the cows for any negative comparisons I've made). And it was an energetic bunch - I have not seen so much bouncing an pogo-ing for a long time. And on that front, I would like to introduce a new feature to my concert reviews: Audience Member of the Month (I know "the month" doesn't make sense but it's the best i can think of at the moment). And here is a very short video of last night's audience member - the grey haired guy in the middle. This video doesn't show it, but buddy pogoed himself into full floor collapse twice, and had to be pulled up to his feet by his posse. Bus driver by day, pogo champion by night. Who knew? (my apologies to bus drivers for any negative comparisons I've made)

Me: It's always a bit weird to go to these reunion gigs. As I've mentioned before, it takes you back to who you were, what you were wearing, what you thought life would be... but I've got to say this actually happened less last night that for the Pointed Sticks and Dave Wakeling/The English Beat. I was thinking about why and I think it is because the music still feels pretty much contemporary - it wasn't really a period piece, as much as that was what I was expecting. Bands in the 90s/00's have picked up a lot from Weller and the boys. Bands like the Libertines or the Arctic Monkeys wouldn't really be around without the Jam. It made me feel really lucky to have seen them the first time around, and it was a treat to see them again and be reminded how important their influence continues to be.


NeoGeo said...

thanks for the review. couldn't attend. you brought me there.

Anonymous said...

No apologies to the pod-people?

Great concert - well said - actually got the blank stare of youth today about the Jam but some recognition of the Stranglers! (It's all in the name?)

Anonymous said...

Don't need keyboards for Golden Brown. i HATE that track with a vengeance, but when he does it solo with just an acoustic guitar, it's a doozy!