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FROM THE JAM / THICK AS THIEVES @ PARR HALL, WARRINGTON 13/4/13 - REVIEW BY LES GLOVER


 
Warrington's beautiful, grade ll listed building, Parr Hall, is the venue for tonight's musical sandwich. A thick helping of Jam, and a smattering from Foxton's current solo album, ‘Back in the Room’, which saw him reunited with his old band mate Paul Weller on a couple of tracks, for the first time in 28 years. And as the crowd start to spread themselves across the creaky wooden floor, a young power pop three piece, 'Thick as thieves', start their set with a cover of the Jags classic, 'Back Of My hand', and begin their assault. The band seem to suffer from the echoey acoustics of the old Victorian hall at first, but soon settle into their stride and are rewarded by an enthusiastic response for their efforts. A good solid set from these competent musicians with lots of potential.
 

From the Jam are now in their 6th year as a touring unit, and seem to go from strength to strength. As the trio take to the stage, the distant echo of faraway voices boarding faraway trains signals the start of 'Tubestation', and the now classic bass riff. Russell Hastings, dressed in black with matching Rickenbacker guitar, does a highly commendable interpretation of Mr Weller's singing and playing, and immediately wins over any doubters and first time listeners, with his obvious passion and love for the material. 'Modern World', 'David Watts', 'Going Underground' and 'Slow Down' thunder by as drummer, Tom Van Heel, gets into his stride, pounding the skins into submission and rewarding us with some quality drumming. (Van Heel recently replaced Mark Brzezicki who was often deputised by the excellent Chris Grainger).

The tempo slows for the surprising inclusion of the beautifully merciless 'Butterfly Collector'. A cutting, cautionary tale of 'groupies and social climbers' and the original B-side of 'Strange Town'. A couple of tracks from Bruce's well received new album, 'No 6' and 'Window Shopping' after which lead vocal duties are handed over to the sharp suited Foxton, for a storming rendition of 'Smithers Jones'. 'Thick as thieves' and 'Non stop dancing', a dedication to the Dr Feelgood's Wilco Johnson, recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. ('Non stop dancing' from the very first Jam album, released, an unbelievable 36 years ago and sounding just as fresh now as it did back then!) A haunting rendition of 'Ghosts' and a stunningly powerful version of 'That's Entertainment’ gets the crowd singing a long for the la la la la las.

'It's Too Bad' precedes The Who classic 'So Sad About Us', another B-side, after which Russell informs the throng of his love of the North and that he hates missing 'Corrie' when touring. Parr Hall is not an ideal venue for rock bands, what with its high ceiling and hard, reflective surfaces, but with a competent sound engineer behind the desk, its well worth the effort to connect this one hundred and eighteen year old beauty with its adoring public. 'Eton Rifles' and 'Start' are executed to perfection and a few guitar changes later, we come to the last song, 'When You're Young'. The encore concludes with 'In The City', 'Beat Surrender' and the ubiquitous, 'Town Called Malice'.

 

It must be difficult for the fantastic Mr Foxton to not include more new material, especially after releasing a new album of such quality and diversity, and to such rave reviews, but he must know as well as we do the reason that he attracts such decent sized crowds, and that's is to hear those classic songs by one of the best British bands ever. After all, nostalgia, like garlic bread and global warming is the future.

 

Setlist:

Tube station
Modern World
Going Underground
Slowdown
Butterfly Collector
No 6
Window Shopping
Smithers Jones
Thick As Thieves
Non Stop Dancing
Ghosts 
Entertainment
It's Too Bad
Its Sad About Us
Eton Rifles 
Start!
Strange Town
When Your Young
Encore:
In The City
Beat Surrender
A Town Called Malice

Review by Les Glover
Photos by Melanie Smith - www.mudkissphotography.co.uk (more photos here)