The Nashville, London
THE NEW WAVE scene is arguably more interesting now than ever, as the big five or six bands are being forced to consolidate their first impressive outpourings with something equally vibrant in order to achieve some semblance of longevity.
Though only The Stranglers have yet (almost) released a second album, several of the other bands are recording busily, and the transitional new songs are being showcased in the concerts they're playing these days.
Of them, The Clash's latest live stuff has already proved strong enough from live exposure for one to predict confidently that their second opus'll be a scorcher. The Damned, on the other hand, if their dire showing at Tottenham Court Road's Sundown venue is any indication, are in real inspirational bovver.
The Jam are another band currently working on their second volume of songs – the release date is confidently boasted as being November but after their performance at the Nashville last Saturday I for one am going to be looking cautiously towards their new work.
That may seem a high-handed attitude to adopt on the strength of just one bad gig, but there appeared to be no technical problems to blame – and we were informed that this show was to broadcast in the States.
The main problem was obvious: the band just played too fast. I couldn't tell you exactly how long The Jam were onstage, but I would hazard a guess that it wasn't over 40 minutes.
Short sets can be thoroughly excusable, though, if the quality is hot. Unfortunately the band simply ruined their repertoire by seizing upon every song and zipping relentlessly through it, often at the expense of melodic precision and dynamics.
The frantic pace was set with 'Changed My Address', and after that we were treated to an odd pot-pourri of old and new: standards like 'Time For Truth', 'In The City' and 'All Around The World', to which a couple of soul oldies 'In The Midnight Hour' and 'Sweet Soul Music' were added clumsily and unnecessarily, plus new songs like 'Down In The Street', 'Modern World' and 'London Traffic'.
Unfortunately nothing really stood out, possibly barring a version of The Who's exquisite 'So Sad About Us', the melody line of which still came through loud and clear under the deluge of excessively speedy pacing. At other times, the sound became splintered and indistinct in the rush, rarely gaining the full KO cohesion that is so prevalent on the group's first album. Weller's usually deft Ricken-backer guitar sound in particular lost much of its fierce impact.
The conclusion is obvious. This is a band who now desperately need to learn the art of pacing. The show I saw was inexcusably messy and downright stupid at times. The impact of entire songs, like the excellent 'World' single, was dissipated under the relentless pace, and ultimately it just wasn't good enough.
Nevertheless, the usual conglomeration of head-bashers went about their kamikaze dance routines unperturbed.
Nick Kent, New Musical Express, 17 September 1977