Nearly eighteen years on, from the final live performance in Brighton, the strongest image most people have of The Jam is the quality of their recorded work. For the army of new young fans this is all they have and until we manage to sort out the live video, or DVD, it is all they will have. Songs such as That's Entertainment, Town Called Malice, Beat Surrender & Start all have a special feel to them.
But The Jam to many people, especially the band members themselves, were essentially a live band. The power and intensity of the stage performances, the quality of musicianship and the instinctive feel they had together was something most bands then, and now for that matter, can only hope for. In the early days it was songs such as Back in my Arms Again & Taking my Love that would have audiences on their feet from the very start. Later on it would be the likes of Pity Poor Alfie & Precious up among the firm favourites.
In the hundreds of live concerts I have been to over the years I have still yet to experience anything like the anticipation & excitement building just before a Jam gig. Coming from Woking the vibe would start usually at one of the pubs close to the station. To begin with there would be dozens, later many more, all boarding the same train to London and we collected hundreds more along the way. Waterloo Station was the main meeting point, followed by Earls Court, as The Jam Army gathered together to make its way to The Rainbow, The Music Machine and, for some of us lucky ones, The Marquee in Wardour Street.
At the venue the atmosphere was always explosive and there was the feeling anything could go off at any time. Hundreds ( and later thousands ) of kids would leave their seats and surge to the front of the hall. There would be big empty spaces at the back of each venue as everybody tried to get as close to the stage as possible. Inevitably scuffles would break out as the pushing continued but all of that sorted itself out as soon as the band hit the stage.
It is impossible to imagine the atmosphere of those occasions and, if you were there, it is something never to be forgotten: However now, as I add this line in October 2002, Universal have just released The Complete Jam, a live DVD. It's all on there, the atmosphere, the tension and sheer ability of one of the finest three piece live bands this country has ever produced. And possibly ever will . The Complete Jam is reviewed here and available online here
If you have any special memories, or written reviews & memorabilia of a Jam gig, please email them here.
Graham Willmott - Woking November 1999