The Jam Live At St Paul Civic Center, Minnesota, USA - 9 March 1980

Review by Scott A. McWaters

It was in the middle of a US tour . There were only about 200 people in a venue that seats about 2,500 (at least). There was at least one warm-up band, (The Beat from LA, not the English Beat; we've been musically deprived on this side of the pond ever since 1958), and there may have been another. They were a weak power pop band, but most of the people actually seemed to have come to see them, not the Jam. During the Jam's set I distinctly remember some fool shouting "Can't beat the Beat!" Most people left before the Jam came out.

The Jam came out on this enormous stage, just the three of them. There were no fancy lights, just bright white stage and spots on full for most of the show. They got a LOT of sound out of just guitar, bass, drum, and vocal. I distinctly remember hearing a great new song: "Going Underground" for the first time, since this wasn't yet available stateside, and import singles were hard to come by in any case.

The audience was a real drag; really languid and sort of stunned. You have to remember that over here the whole punk rock/new wave thing was really different especially, in the heartland. I had dyed orange hair back in '77-'78 and was really a freak even in Chicago. People were simply stunned by the raw, live sound. People were more used to Foreigner or Pink Floyd. Anyway, Paul got really pissed and tried to get people to move a little and get out of their chairs, but to almost no avail. He said something to the effect of it being a f****** rock and roll show and not a dinner party. He did this several times.

My recollection is a bit dim, but most of the numbers were from "All Mod Cons," they played pretty much the whole thing, "Going Underground," several songs from "Modern World" ("All Around the World," "Modern World," and one or two others), and only "Away from the Numbers" from the first LP. I kept shouting for "Art School" between numbers, and Paul heard me and said something about not playing that one anymore. They didn't play any encores because the audience was so paltry and lethargic.

However, I loved it. There are only a few other shows I would compare to this: the first time I saw the Who around 1971, the Clash around 1979 (with the Undertones and the David Johansen Group!), and the Ramones in 1978 in a "club" in a strip mall next to a cornfield in Illinois. It may just be the show wasn't that great, but I was just such a big Jam fan.

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Many thanks, Kev.

1 Comment on “The Jam Live At The St Paul Civic Center, MN, USA – 9 March 1980

  1. I was at this show as well. The other “opening act” on the triple bill (aside from The Beat) Scott McWaters refers to were the legendary soul duo of Sam and Dave. They had just concluded a 4-night run (March 5-8) in Minneapolis at the legendary Cabooze Bar. The promoter added them to the bill for The Jam’s St. Paul date on March 9 at the St. Paul Civic Center Theater. The newspaper advert (I still have it and the torn ticket stub) referred to the Jam’s “Setting Sons” 1980 tour. Ticket prices were $6.00 reserved. The crowd was much larger than 250. I was on the main floor (there was also a balcony) and seated in Row T. That’s at least 20 rows back from the stage and I recall the seats/rows in front of me being full. I worked in the local retail record biz at this time and caught most of the legendary “punk/new wave” acts (Talking Heads 3 times, The Police twice, XTC, Elvis Costello, The Stranglers twice, Patti Smith, The Clash twice, The Pretenders, Joe Jackson, the Ramones and many, many others), that played the Twin Cities during the 1978-81 time period. However, this is the ONLY time I ever caught The Jam. It may have been their only Minnesota appearance for all I know.

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