The Jam Live At Leeds Polytechnic - 1 April 1977

Review by John Hamblett

© NME 1977


(and that's an order)

RICK BUCKLER hangs tough behind his kit, cool as a spring breeze, snapping out a viciously precise beat with contemptuous ease. The kind of drummer that makes me want to up and trade my guitar for a drum kit IMMEDIATELY! If Jimmy Dean had been a drummer he would’ve played like Rick Buckler.

Paul Weller plays his guitar real neat, his right hand coming down over the strings in a tense, clipped fluttering motion like a moth caught in a strobe beam, the chords chasing each other out into the hall, fighting for dancing room (I think I’ll keep my guitar after all).

Paul also handles the lead vocals, but I’m right up front with the dancers, jumping around like a demented wallaby, so the lyrics go right over my head. I’m digging this on an entirely different level; down in the pits, where Basic Instincts and Natural Rhythm reign untouchable.... AND I AM HAVIN’ A BALL!! His voice sounds okay, though.

Bruce Foxton is so close to me I could play his bass for him, but he doesn’t see me. I don’t think he sees anything at all. He hops and pogos around as though acutely aware of each limb as he moves. Is this what they call "awkward grace"? Probably, yes. He mouths the lyrics silently - I presume - his eyes seem to stare in disbelief at his actions, almost as though they don’t belong to him, reflecting the desperate tension that fuses the band together. I stop dancing for a while, quite fascinated.

Go knows what’s happened to The Stranglers. They’re supposed to be topping the bill, but word had it they ain’t turned up yet, so who cares already? These boys have already played longer than they should’ve, and they’ve come back for an encore. Of course, by this time I am seriously out of control, paralysed from the neck up. End of gig.

There is something different about The Jam, and I’m not sure what it is: something more than uniform dress - black suits, white shirts, etc. - perhaps it’s down to ‘soul’ or something like that. I said I’m not sure, but give me time.

After the gig somebody told me that they were being touted as a ‘60s revivalist band. Forget it. That is, like err, bullshit, man. You might as well call The Stones a blues band. Sure they use the mid-60’ ‘mod sound’ as a powerbase, of sorts, but from there it’s 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-zero, blast off, instant ‘70s modism, Desperate Tension, adrenaline rush guaranteed, and all like that.

Thrill to The Jam, it’s such fun.

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Many thanks, Kev.

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