From the Jam + Chris Pope at Sub-Rooms, Stroud 20th August 2022
The only time I saw the Jam live, on their farewell tour in 1982, the week before was spent deciding on the all-important outfit. The Jam were all about the eye for detail. The segs- adorned brogues were buffed, red socks were chosen and the two-tone tonic trousers shimmered like our young expectant eyes.
My expectation of opening act Chris Pope was based on his output with the Chords. However, our street-corner firebrand far exceeded his role as support. With passion and conviction he sang his organs out. Never shying away from politics and the “big calls” of the day Pope captured the mood in the room. Enticing some in the room to growl tersely what they felt about the current political impasse. His lyric writing, his poetry of the everyday, ensured you listened intently to every word, phrase and line. All in the detail. “Come the revolution,” indeed…
For From the Jam I chose to wear my buffed oxblood DMs with contrasting yellow laces (and red socks).
Looking surprisingly well, Russ Hastings and Bruce Foxton were at ease on their stage. The pair prepared to mock their medical misfortune (what a euphemism!); the humour winning over their human comfort-blanket before a chord was struck. The personable and affable Hastings can disarm and charm with aplomb. The intimate setting of the Sub-Rooms is small enough so you feel a part of the event and large enough to create a genuine collective atmosphere. Consequently, the impromptu Q & A sessions throughout really did work.
The detailed planning of the From the Jam set-list was obvious. Just how can an unplugged gig produce so much electricity? Liza Radley was greeted with a knowing arcane knowledge. Butterfly Collector brought a respectful and appreciative silence. In the City ensured clenched fists were raised even from the seated audience. Not content to only look back, the new track Lula was performed to obvious approval.
I feel like a tin-pot dandy in my purple Harrington; the jacket drew more than a couple of comments on the night.
From the Jam appear to be back on convincing form. Their audience joined them down at the front towards the end of the gig. The version of Going Underground sang with such conviction, provoked involuntary gesturing and guttural singing from the reminiscing believers. The animated lady in the band T-shirt who had armed-danced from the start (Russ: “Can I have what she is having?”) and enthusiastically joined in the shenanigans in front of the stage; her energy earned her a dedication – which seemed fitting. Fittingly, the band’s respectful bow at the end of the show was honoured with a round of applause as befitting such a personal night.
My comrade for the night, with no cross to bear, returned grinning from the stage proclaiming: “What an excellent night!”
Making our way back to the car I checked the one inch turn-ups of my blue Levis in the plate-glass shop windows. Our echoed steps chimed down the near empty streets. Neon signs lit up our path and the illuminated allure of the chippy proved too much once again. On nights like this I have no need to wonder where my love of language, music, clothes and live gigs was fostered.
By: The Swilgate Scuttler
Photos by Jonathan Duckworth