First Night: From The Jam, The Zodiac, Oxford
Grown men wipe away tears with return of idols

From The Independent

By Pierre Perrone
Published: 03 May 2007

Between 1979 and 1982, The Jam were second only to The Police in the affections of the great British public.

While the Police's frontman, Sting, played Ace Face in Quadrophenia, the Franc Roddam film based on the 1973 Who album, Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler looked and played sharp and spearheaded the Mod revival of the late Seventies. Their very British subject matter also inspired the kind of fan loyalty subsequently associated with The Smiths and the Stone Roses.

When they broke up after 18 top-40 singles, grown men wept. Worse, throughout his Eighties' years with the Style Council and his subsequent solo career, Weller barely acknowledged the Jam's glittering songbook, despite its obvious influence on the Britpop of Oasis, Cast and Ocean Colour Scene. So the decision by original members, Foxton and Buckler, to revisit their glory years with the help of Jam aficionados Russell Hastings and Dave Moore seems a wise if calculated move.

Certainly, on the opening night of their British tour, The Zodiac is jam packed as they start with the title track of The Gift, the last album The Jam released. The Gift is also the name of the group Buckler formed with Hastings and Moore two years ago, though the introduction of Foxton, always a sterling lieutenant to Weller, into the equation has lifted the whole From The Jam venture.

Wearing a black suit and a black and white polka-dot shirt, Foxton bounces all over the stage and does one of his trademark jumps while they impeccably segue from "The Modern World" into "To Be Someone". His melodic, muscular bass playing anchors the band, and he clearly relishes being reunited with Buckler on drums.

When Foxton trades verses with Hastings on a great version of The Kink's "David Watts", he sings the tabloid-baiting "News of the World" and excels on the Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin vignette "Smithers-Jones". But what of Hastings, who has to fill the shoes of the Modfather himself? He has the glottal stop vowels and vocals down to a T, while his choppy guitar playing and his manic stare bring to mind Wilko Johnson of pub rockers Dr Feelgood.

From The Jam pay tribute to their other Sixties heroes The Who with a chiming cover of "So Sad About Us" but the mostly forty-something audience are here to relive their youth and sing along to "That's Entertainment", "Start!", and the still relevant "Little Boy Soldiers".

No one seems to miss Weller, who during his time fronting The Jam had an ability to engage with his audience unmatched by any of the people he inspired but has been lost in Steve Marriott and Steve Winwood retroland of late. After "The Butterfly Collector", Foxton, Buckler and Co romp home through "The Eton Rifles" and "Going Underground", and encore with "In The City", "Mr Clean", the Motown-esque "Town Called Malice", and the still genuinely arresting "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight". All the Jam hits and more - mission accomplished.