From the Jam, Back With Fury 26 Years Later

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Jam, the English mod trio fronted by Paul Weller, disbanded in 1982; no amount of cajoling can get Weller to return. So, 26 years on, bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler started From the Jam, with singer-guitarist Russell Hastings's cockney delivery and bass-baritone replacing Weller's.

Happily, it works, very well indeed. As the throbbing bass line of "Town Called Malice" kicked in, Hastings said Monday night at the Birchmere, as more of a blessing than a curse, "Eat your [expletive] heart out, Paul Weller." And with that, From the Jam tore into the propulsive anthem with all the fury that had been building since the show began 70 minutes earlier.

The pop-punk energy of Jam cuts including "Pretty Green," " 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street," "The Modern World" and "In the City" retained all their Margaret Thatcher-loathing significance and sleek, muscular power. "When You're Young" had no irony at all.

Opening the show was another welcome blast from the U.K. past, Hugh Cornwell, who delivered a generous set of electric guitar interpretations of his Stranglers' repertoire.

Accompanied by a young bassist and drummer, Cornwell added chaotic yet comprehensible solos to his surprisingly psychedelic set, which included "No More Heroes," "(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)" and a new one, the wry "Don't Put Me on a Slow Boat to Trowbridge." (He promised after the show to include "Golden Brown," "Walk on By" and "Strange Little Girl" next time.) Like From the Jam, Cornwell made a satisfying case of relevancy -- from then to now.

-- Buzz McClain

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