New York Palladium
UNDER A WIDE banner that said "Trans-Global Unity Express," the Jam played an intense 80-minute set to a half-empty Palladium. Songwriter/guitarist Paul Weller, with his neatly cut hair, youthfully serious demeanor, short-sleeve knit sport shirt buttoned tight to the neck and an ever-present wad of chewing gum, looked like he was on holiday from prep school. Yet he attacked his guitar and microphone with furious passion, spitting out lyrics so fiercely that the tendons in his neck stood out.
The band didn't let up for a moment. Augmented by a two-man horn/percussion/keyboard section (nattily attired in suits), the three-piece Jam fought its way through a terrible sound system that repeatedly threatened to render Weller's guitar completely inaudible. Though they focused mostly on their current album (The Gift), doing nine of its 11 songs, material from most of their previous LPs was included ('Start!', 'That's Entertainment', 'David Watts'), as well as quite a few singles ('Funeral Pyre', 'Butterfly Collector', the terrific 'Dreams of Children').
If Weller is the mind of the Jam (have you ever seen a picture of him smiling?) and drummer Rick Buckler its backbone, then bassist Bruce Foxton is its heart. Weller hides behind his forbidding mask, Buckler behind his drumkit, but Foxton is all over the stage, dancing and smiling and projecting real warmth and enthusiasm. It's a balance that obviously works wonderfully in England, but the likelihood the Jam will ever achieve large-scale success in the States is unfortunately poor. In a nation that prefers Brits who Americanize, the Jam will always be too English.
It's also doubtful (but thankfully so) that the Jam's support band, the Gun Club, will ever receive success in their native America. They played an overlong half-hour set full of thoroughly irritating songs that had no melodies to speak of, sounded alike, and grated on the ears. Bands like the Gun Club give punk a bad name. As someone was overheard to say, they present a good case for gun control.
Karen Schlosberg, Trouser Press, September 1982