(Article by Tim Filor)
The Jam will always be my favourite band, I was lucky to see them live four times.My mate Steve Bizley had introduced me to the Jam about the time of "All around the world”. That was the first Jam single I bought along with the Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant" and the Stranglers "Peaches”. I purchased the "Modern World" album not long after that and, despite the slagging off in the music press, I really liked it.
Steve was the bass player in our school band and had a Rickenbacker copy bass like Bruce's. He only lived down the road from the school so we used to go down and listen to records in our sixth form” study periods”. I can still remember one session when he plonked ” Strange Town " on the deck and said,” this is amazing”, I agreed.
My first Jam gig was on 2/11/78 at the De Montfort hall Leicester . I'd only seen two bands prior to this,10cc sometime in1976(I think) and the The Stranglers in 1977.I`m pretty sure I went with Steve as I remember him buying a "tube station " tee shirt at the end. The third person with us may have been Chris Lazzari who was a punk at the time but I can't remember.
I think the Vapors were the support band and I remember thinking they were pretty good, plus a "punk poet" who was mildly amusing .His party piece was getting an umbrella out to protect himself from a potential barrage of gob from the audience .I can't remember a torrent of phlegm falling down on him, that sort of thing was a bit "old hat" by then.
The Jam came on framed by a painting of a big tower block in the back ground. I'd heard nothing like it before and it they just blew me away. I remember the stuff from "All Mod Cons" just leaving me breathless. I hadn't heard the album prior to the gig as it hadn't been released but storming versions of "To be Someone" and Mr Clean" left a lasting impression on me. We were standing about halfway back from the stage, people leaping about in front of us. I was just standing there stunned by the power of the music.
Some choice cuts from the "Modern World" and "In the City" albums followed plus most of the current singles leading up to the final number "A Bomb on Wardour Street ". The backdrop lit up as the song crashed to the end. We screamed for more and got it though I can't remember exactly what the encore was.
A few days after "All Mod Cons" was released I went Xmas shopping with my Mum and Dad in Peterborough . I rushed into Boots and got the album .It was straight on my music centre when I got home and it didn't disappoint. The "secret" track on the album, "English Rose, is the only one I don't really like. Mike Reid used to play it a lot on Radio One and I know a lot of fans love it so I'm probably in the minority when I say it's the one thing that stops it being the perfect album for me. I remember a critic in one of the music rags reckoning that this album was Weller's rewrite of "Revolver". What I want to know is what track did he think was the new "Yellow Submarine"?
It wasn't that long before I got my next live Jam fix. The lads were playing at Loughborough University student union as part of the "Jam Pact" tour. My mate Jim Grainger was on a course there and he'd got a ticket for me as a present, it was the day before my nineteenth birthday, May 12th 1979 .
Jim didn't know much about The Jam, he had been a Tom Robinson Band fan. It just took a few plays of "Strange Town" on the common room record player (after removing "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits on repeat play) to convince him it may not be a bad night after all. As we arrived at the venue we were heckled by some punks who hadn't been able to get in. Once inside we went straight to the bar and I saw a lad in a parka getting a beating from some long haired rocker biker types and I wondered why?
The support band was called the "Rockets"(I think) and they were ok .We were too busy getting the beers in so didn't pay that much attention. Beers in hand we moved down into the stalls and the entertainment continued courtesy of some Lesbians having a good snog in front of us (I'd led a sheltered life up to this point and it was all new to me).
Paul's father came on and did his usual introduction (I wondered who he was at the time) then the place erupted and the lads stormed into a brilliant set, similar to the previous gig at Leicester . I remember that they did "Away from the numbers", "Tonight at Noon " (which I really love and wasn't played at the previous gig) and "Strange Town/Butterfly Collector" which was the single at the time. They obviously did more classic single and album tracks but they were the ones that stuck in my mind.
It was the last song of the main set which proved explosive in more ways than one. The backdrop was a tower block again and at the end of a scorching "A Bomb" an explosion went off. It seemed strange as the smoke was so bad you could only just see the band. I remember just being able to see Bruce through the gloom and the smoke seemed to hang around for ages. The band soldiered on despite this and after the encores we headed back to the halls of residence full of beer and adrenalin. We carried on the party till about five in the morning.
I woke up the next day thinking this was the best birthday ever and wishing I hadn't messed my exams up as student life seemed pretty damn good. I was now pretty disappointed that I was off to work the following July.
The write up in the local rag the next day mentioned that the pyrotechnics had been faulty and gone off early. One of the technical guys had been slightly injured. I went to see the "kids are alright" about a year later at the pictures and often wondered if Rick had done a "Keith Moon" and bribed the technical guys to pack more explosive in.
The third and probably the most memorable gig for me was again at De-Montfort Hall Leicester 13/11/80 . Originally I'd purchased a ticket for me and my mate Chris Lazzari to go.
We, plus a lot of the audience, were now living the Mod lifestyle. Chris and I both had scooters and lived in parkas and mod suits etc. It had all come clear to me now why at Loughborough the parka clad boy had taken a beating as I'd had a few close calls myself.
The popularity of the Jam was now on an upwards surge and they usually did a two nighter at Leicester . I hadn't left getting the tickets that late as I worked near the ticket office but I was disappointed as the only tickets left were in the balcony sitting down for both nights. I always liked being in the stalls.
The night before the gig Chris was taken ill and he didn't think he would be well enough to go so I offered the ticket to another mate Pete Barratt. He was well pleased because it was close to his birthday. He'd been at my school but we actually got friendly after we'd left due to a mutual interest in Mod. It was good that he came because the night wouldn't have been anything like as good if he hadn't.
We started off in the balcony but we could see that it was more fun in the stalls.
The Jam came on and it was crazy at the front part of the stalls. Pete had also been a punk and liked leaping about so we decided we wanted a piece of the action. We went downstairs and sneaked into the back of the stalls.
We gradually weaved nearer the front, new songs from the Sound Affects album rang out as we slowly edged forward. We were getting pretty close to our objective when the opening riff of "In the City" rang out. It was like a catalyst for us (bearing in mind our previous love of punk) and we started leaping about like madmen. I don't think it went down too well with those around us but we didn't care, this was what we had come for. I can't remember how much more of the gig was left but we bounced around till the final chords of the encore faded out.
I think we were both pretty knackered at the end and I started to make my way out with the rest of the crowd. Pete grabbed me and suggested we hang around. We wandered around the hall while it emptied avoiding the stewards. I was a getting a bit nervy but Pete persuaded me to hang on. The other people in the hall had permits of one sort or another.
What happened next left me gobsmacked, Bruce and Rick came out and stood very close to us and a small crowd gathered round them. We had to get an autograph but all we had was our ticket stubbs so that's what we handed over. They kindly took them out of our sweaty hands and somehow managed to get both signatures on them. We needed the full set but where was Paul?
We had a little wander and found him in another part of the hall leaning up against a pillar. He looked a bit sullen and a fan was speaking in his ear, something about, "primadonna".
Pete very politely asked Paul if he'd sign our stubbs and a few seconds later we'd got the full set. It was a magical end to a brilliant night. It just showed how well the lads treated the fans. How many bands at that same level of fame would have come out like that after the gig, not many I suspect!
I was pinching my self on the way home, I just couldn't believe it. When I told Chris about it the next day he was well naffed off. It's still one of my most treasured possessions and it's a brilliant reminder of a great night almost 25 years ago.
It was a little while till I saw the lads for the final time, I kept track of the vinyl output but I was madly in love with a girl at the time who's taste in music was somewhat different to mine so I missed out on the gig scene for a while. I'd lost contact with Chris as he'd met a nice modette at a Chords gig and that was basically the last I saw of him socially ("thick as thieves" comes to mind).I hadn't been much better with Pete and Steve but didn't completely lose contact with them and I actually went to see Slade with Pete at DeMont (well I was a big fan in the seventies).My image had changed a bit as I was now a bit of a biker but thankfully that phase didn't last long.
It was now March 1982 I wasn't quite so young but I was free and single, a live Jam fix was needed again ASAP. I didn't have to wait long as they visited De-Mont on the 23rd.My old mate Steve kept me company for the second time. I could only get balcony seats again which was a bit of a bummer but we were near the stage so it wasn't too bad. There was no chance of getting in the stalls this time as security had been tightened and you had to show your ticket to get in.
As we looked down we could see the Mods sweltering in their Parkas. They seemed so young. Probably only fourteen or fifteen. The support act may have been the Piranhas as they did "Tom Hark" but that could have been at an earlier gig .
The Jam came on and the room yet again erupted. They were huge now, we didn't know at the time that it was close to ending, we just sat back and enjoyed the ride. A constant stream of little Mods were getting pulled out of the front as the crowd surged forward. They had a brief moment with their heroes on stage before being hauled off by the bouncers.
The band had lots of material to choose from now and a new album to promote. I'd like to say I can remember what they did but my memory is coloured by a video I have of virtually the same set at Bingley Hall that had been recorded the previous night. The backdrop was a banner saying "Transglobal Unity Express" I can remember them doing that song and also "scrape away ", which seemed to be extra long, "Pretty Green", "Man at the Corner Shop" and finally "Happy Together" .
We left the gig elated and made a quick dash to the Old White Horse on London road to catch last orders "(it was a real spit and sawdust pub in those days but was later refurbished). I must have been full of adrenalin as I never rush anywhere normally.
As we supped our beers we never really thought that would be the last time we would see the band live but, sadly it was. I didn't get to see any of the final gigs and had to be content with the final outing on The Tube. I have to admit that once the boys had unofficially expanded to five it wasn't quite the same for me but with hindsight you can now see where Paul wanted to go.
I did quite like the Style council but it wasn't quite the same experience when I saw them live.
Bruce's solo stuff was pretty good and I bought "Freak". My future wife had the album and again, it was as good as Paul's output at the time. There was a brief moment of excitement when Rick and Bruce almost got a band called "Sharp" together with a guy from The Chords (I think) but it was sadly not to be.
Almost five years ago I was in Leicester (I now live in Derby ) for Pete's 40th birthday. I had just got my autographed ticket out a few days before and noticed the date. While we were tucking into our curries i said to Pete," I bet you didn't realise that 20 years ago we were leaping about to the Jam up the road at the De Mont". It took us both aback. I asked Pete if he still had his ticket but he sadly had lost when he lived in New Zealand . I was just as bad as I'd managed to lose a signed letter from John Entwhistle, but that's another story.
All I can say is a massive thanks to The Jam, it was good while it lasted.
The legacy for me is that it inspired me to get in a band with three other Jam fans mourning the demise of the best trio in the world. I was literally about to sell all my gear when I saw an advert in the local rag placed by a student at Leicester Uni Called Rob Snape quoting the Jam, among others, as the musical direction that the band would take. I actually bumped into him this year at an Elvis Costello gig and it was good to see him again as it a been at least eighteen years since we'd last met. When I first joined the band in 1983 I was talking to Martin the Drummer as we'd pretty much been to the same gigs. At De-Mont Paul had suddenly left the stage for no apparent reason then came back a bit later with a smirk on his face(unusual for him at the time).Martin explained that he had split his trousers and had to go off and change them. I can't remember which specific gig it was, does anyone else remember this incident?
I obviously never found fame and fortune but I did carry on playing in various line ups till 1997. Over that period of time I met my wife, a lot of my friends, now have two great kids and a lot of memories.
My regrets are few but I wished I'd seen the Jam live more, particularly in 77 when they played at the Poly (now De Montford Uni) and later in the eighties at Granby Halls(now demolished but I'm told it was a crappy venue anyway.)I never got the chance to hear "All Around the World" live as it was never played at any of the gigs I went to. They broadcast a gig on the Radio and it was the last track but it faded out halfway through much to my frustration. The same gig is on The Jam at the BBC CD which I thoroughly recommend.
My final note is it's a terrible thing getting old, it's taken a while for me to compile this as I had to consult diaries memorabilia etc to get my facts straight. I have to admit that I thought I'd only seen the lads 3 times and got some events muddled up. I think it's pretty accurate now after originally making a silly mistake re the release date of "All Mod Cons".
I hope this revives some memories of what it was like to be at a live Jam gig because I've not seen a band since who can even come close to it.
Good luck with "The Gift”, try to come to Derbyshire if you can as we have lots of "mad for it" fans here judging by the turnout at the last "Jamm" tribute band gig at the assembly rooms.
All the Best
(Article by Tim Filor)