This event is 39 years old and obviously the few memories i have of this are jaded to say the least!im not quite sure if we had tickets or it was a pay on the door,but one thing is you had to be signed in,this was of course back in the days when the “students” where all a bit elitist,ie you had to be one to drink cheap cider in the students union bar even tho you had put fuck all in to the system,all that type of shit,keeping the riff raff out type of thing,it was a nightmare and as a 14 year old you can only stand being told to fuck off so many times,the thing with the students around that time was it was there kind of music circuit which was basically for them and nobody else like i mentioned earlier an elite club,so there we where me and jimmy and im not sure who else was with us,standing around trying our hardest when the man himself paul weller came walking down the steps in a parka,we managed to grab him and have a word about getting us in,but no chance there was nowt he could do as there was loads on the guest list,somehow one by one we managed to get in, and assemble at the bottom of the steps that went upto the concert hall,i remember there being a table selling tee shirts and stuff but not purchasing anything at all,on getting to the door that lead into the concert hall i can clearly remember the sound of patrik fitzgerald banging away on his guitar the song “safety pin stuck in my heart” i think we worked our way down to the front as all 14 year olds would do at the time! and next up where the dickies a great band from america who played everything at 100MPH, i already knew both artists from the peel show,so they where another 2 added to my slowly growing list of bands i had seen.So showtime and to this day i can hardly remember anything about the jam playing this night, it was the 1st time i had ever seen the jam and hardly anything i can remember!One thing is, i went in as a 14 year big jam fan but came out a massive jam fan,this gig along with a few others put me on to a lifetime of listening to this great band and paul weller solo stuff and the style council and the future recordings of bruce foxton and rick buckler,why post this you may ask? well it’s 39 years to the day that i saw this band which changed everything in my life after coming out of the now demolished sheffield polytechnic building things where different,these events in life may not really be important to a lot of us,however over the next 4 years i went on to see the jam 25 times,along that way i had some truly great times,met some great lads and lasses,and of course watched a truly great band just get better and better,would i swap this event for anything? NO! in fact i won’t swap any of the 25 times i saw the jam,probably not even to see the pistols who are the only one of my favourite bands ive never got to see.
And now for something completely different as the pythons would say!! Four days after seeing Moonlandingz at The Leadmill it was Paul Weller time,Sheffield was not included on This spring tour so it threw up a couple of possibilities for our choice of venue, last time around (2015) we picked York barbican and as it had been included again we thought somewhere different, Doncaster Dome was decided as our chosen venue, luckily we got seated tickets mainly due to my better half waiting for a date for an operation which had a recovery time of a couple of months, so the last thing she needed was being knocked about by some fat 50ish “mod” in a 20 quid Harrington jacket clutching his pint of fosters whilst posing for “selfies” and shouting out for jam songs.
Mixed crowd tonight, young and old, couples, father and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters (aunties and uncles,remember that one?) And I’m extremely happy to say a very low Comedy Mod turn out, whether there was a 2 tone tribute act on somewhere or the distinct lack of jam tunes played on the 2015 spring Saturns Pattern tour may have finally given the Austin powers brigade the message. Anyway a capacity crowd awaited the return of Mr Weller along with 2nd in command Steve Cradock, the massively talented Andy Crofts, moving from keyboards to bass guitar, Thomas Van Heel (just needs to play with rick for the full set of ex jam members!) stepping into croftys keyboard duties, Steve pilgrim on drums along with the moons Ben gordelier on percussion completes the line up, the band charge out and launch straight into White Sky, long time and I’m where I should be, from 2015s Saturns Pattern Album, Ghosts from The Gift album made a surprise appearance and a cracking version it was as well! Ever-changing moods was another surprise tune added in, the back catalogue is getting a hammering already and it came across well being played by a band who probably hadn’t been born when this song graced the top 5 last century, back to Saturns Pattern for the title song and paul switching to piano for the excellent single Going My Way, New song time! Woo See Mama from the forthcoming album was an absolute belter and if the rest of the album is as strong as this tune it’s going to be a ten from len. Then we are back in 1980 visiting the Sound Affects album for Man in the Cornershop, the lyrics as relevant in 2017 as they where in 1980, Suzies Room! From heavy soul is given a dust down followed by The Attic from Sonik Kicks more dusting down of old tunes and we have the mighty,no gigantic Ever Had It Blue from TSC days, one of my favourite Council tunes ever, however it didn’t quite cut the mustard for me with it being minus the brass, Friday Street next and back to the debut solo album for Above the Clouds and then we are back rocking , rolling and loud for the debut single Into Tomorrow, is it really all that time ago? Still sounding loud and fresh after all these years.
Long Road and Cranes from the new album are next followed by the riff laden Peacock Suit from 97s Heavy Soul, Dr John’s bluesy Gilded Splinters a song I think weller has made his own is guttsy and dirty blues as anything that’s come out of New Orleans in 30 years, Come on, let’s go is blasted out and it’s over!!!
Not quite, returning to the stage, chairs are laid out and Steve pilgrim joins on acoustic guitar, wildwood starts and flows into Monday being given a excellent acoustic makeover, going into John Lennons Love and then into pauls recent film soundtrack song “the ballad of Jimmy McCabe” my first time of hearing this song and I thought it was very good, Out Of The Sinking finished this 1st encore rather nicely, only moan I had was maybe half of the audience switched off during the acoustic songs which was quite a shame.
Second encore and we had impossible idea and City Streets, again from Saturns Pattern, a great song quite trippy as well, back to The Jam days and Start! Andy Crofts bass playing really stood out, that was something else I noticed, first time in years I’ve heard the bass turned up in the mix, could never hear Andy Lewis,minchellas or Marco nelsons bass lines at all, The night finished with Changingman, pretty apt as well, as Paul is always changing his direction and influences and coming up with fresh music all the time, Another cracking night!!
Here’s one of my oldest badges,and one of my favourite pieces of punk memorabilia, back in 1978 I filled up on breakfast and stuffed my pockets with crisps and chocolate to keep me going thru the school day, carefully saving my dinner money until the weekend so i could venture into town to buy the latest singles and the odd album, one of these was All Mod Cons the break through album by The Jam.
I spent hours in my bedroom playing this record, flipping the record over constantly, on each play I had a new favourite song, I knew all the words, I would lay on my bed reading the lyrics and singing along to each and every song, the inside sleeve with its illustration of the scooter, the references to The Who, the Ska LP,the Union jack badges,coffee bars,Tamla Motown records,London,school crests,photos of the band live, it was a truly great collage, the lyrics over the top of the cut away illustrations of the Vespa GS Scooter, not that I knew at the time was the ultimate Mod Scooter.
All this a throwback to the mid sixties a time when I was just making my debut into the wide world, a culture of cool clothes,great music,great bands and just looking great and wanting something different from the norm! I was drawn to the Jam badges on the cover,and as a 14 year with an active mind and a thirst for music and everything to do with the jam I had to have one of these badges!!
So I wrote a letter to Paul Weller, 38 years ago,most of my life away,I put pen to paper, I presume I wrote to polydor records,” dear Paul, love the album,where can I get these badges? ” etc etc ” I’m not sure how long it was but one day I came home from school, “there’s a letter come for you” my mum said, looking at me totally amazed, I had forgotten all about writing to Weller by this time,the franking on the letter stated Polydor records W1 I was in it Like a shot!”dear Pete I have sent you 2 badges you asked about, however the David Watts badges where promotion badges only and have all gone hope these are OK” signed Paul Weller ! Those are the few words I can remember, and it was written on long forgotten hotel notepaper
Fucking hell! I sat and read the letter over and over again, just couldn’t believe it, I rang my mates up and soon we where all gathered round in my bedroom passing the letter around,everyone wanting to be my new best mate, hoping I would give them the other badge! This little item started me on collecting everything to do with the jam, over the next 4 years I collected badges, every magazine and newspaper article,posters,photos, tee shirts, I made scrapbooks, I saved my gig tickets, anything and everything.
As for the 2nd badge? well we all have those moments when it was “a good idea at the time” I swapped it with my best mate for a ben Sherman shirt, I cant for the life think what colour or style it was now,but if he still has it then the value far outweighs the value of the shirt now! As for the letter? well no idea what happened to it, and my scrapbooks filled with cuttings etc, even now at 52 years old I know that as a teenager I would never have thrown them away, years ago my parents where adamant that they didn’t get rid, so maybe one day soon a search thru my parents loft may shed some light on them still existing!