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Get Out More............................Gig Review

FROM THE JAM (The Robin, Bilston)


Featuring two of the original trio - but not the main man. Dave Woodhall joins the pogoing throng.

There were a lot of Paul Weller haircuts in evidence at the Robin 2 on Monday nght. Which is ironic considering that Weller is about as likely as Osama Bin Laden to turn up wherever From The Jam are playing.

In the immortal words of Alan Partridge, Wings were "the band the Beatles could have become."

From the Jam, on the other hand, are the band Woking's finest evolved into, when Messrs Foxton and Buckler realised their former singer was happier without them and they still had mortgages to pay.

So it was with Russell Hastings singing and playing guitar that they sauntered onstage in a very low-key way, kicking off with To Be Someone, from the All Mod Cons album. This was followed by It's Too Bad and Modern World, which saw Bruce Foxtons's only scissors kick of the night (well, he is getting on a bit).

From there on in the band gave us exactly what was expected - wall to wall Jam, the soundtrack of so many lives. The songs weren't introduced, but to this almost sold-out audience - no mean feat in the current climate and during the holiday season - they didn't need to be.

That's Entertainment received one of the largest cheers of the night, but "Not as good as Weller does it" was the response from my left. Indeed it wasn't. More than any other Jam song it's Paul Weller solo and should be left alone by everyone else. Much better was Little Boy Soldiers, from 1979's Setting Sons, unfortunately placed during a selection of album tracks which saw a drift towards the back bar.

A Bomb in Wardour Street won the audience back round and by the time the closing salvo of When You're Young, Strange Town and Tube Station finished off the set, there was a lot of frenetic jumping around that many fortysomethings doubtless felt the next morning.

There hadn't been much interaction from the band - a couple of "thanks" and a barbed "Who needs him?" was Hastings' idea of working the audience but much more was superfluous. There's little point introducing songs when the entire audience knows what they are from the opening bars so may as well get on with it.

You equally know what the encore's going to be. A Town Called Malice, followed by The Gift and Going Underground concluded a spirited run-though of what was, essentially, the Jam's greatest hits. A tribute to themselves indeed.

I must confess that I wasn't totally knocked out by what I saw. It was all a bit too predictable and there was as much chance of hearing "This one's from the new album" as there was of Weller (or indeed Bin Laden) jumping onstage during the encore.

At times it seemed little different from watching a live DVD. But the audience wanted an exercise in nostalgia and on Bilston's hottest night of the summer that's what they got. Who am I to argue?



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