BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Somerset


Related BBC Sites


Contact Us


Rick Buckler in Frome
Rick Buckler on stage in Frome

Review: The Gift

Drew Savage
The Jam's Rick Buckler played The Cheese and Grain in Frome with his new band The Gift on Friday 8 September, 2006. BBC Somerset's punk and new-wave correspondent (!) Drew Savage went along to the gig to check it out.

Rick Buckler spoke to BBC Somerset Sound's Jo Phillips ahead of the gig. To listen to the interview, click on this audio link:

audio Interview: Rick Buckler >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

If the drummer out of one of the biggest-ever British bands starts touring with a new band, playing songs exclusively by his old band, then three questions spring to mind. Does it count as a 'proper' band or a tribute band, is it worth seeing, and is it a bit odd?

Seeing as the drummer in question is Rick Buckler out of The Jam, the first band I was ever seriously into as a schoolboy, I headed over to The Cheese and Grain in Frome to try and find out.

The Jam's biggest hits

Chris Pope
Chris Pope

When I arrived, support act Pope were in mid-set. Singer Chris Pope used to be in The Chords, one of the lesser-known but higher-quality bands that came to prominence in the Jam-inspired Mod revival of 1979. He delivered a tightly-focused set to an appreciative audience who preferred to gather by the bar.

The Cheese and Grain is a pretty cavernous venue, and I'd like to see Pope again in a smaller club where he's got a better chance of getting the crowd involved.

The audience knew what they came for though. After a brief hiatus (while the DJ treated us to the likes of Sound of the Suburbs by The Members), they got it.

The Gift's singer, Russell Hastings, ushered everyone down the front, quite reasonably pointing out: "I don't wanna stand here on my own." The crowd duly obliged and the band ripped into David Watts, with Rick Buckler singing along word for word and pounding on the drum kit just like it was 1978.

The Gift went straight into one of The Jam's biggest hits, Going Underground, which had the desired effect of getting the audience dancing. From there, they thundered into Pretty Green, with the crowd happily joining in on the 'oi's'.

Musical history

The Gift
The Gift

From there, it was an easy step to the Dexy's-esque stomp of Boy About Town and then the wistfulness of Thick as Thieves.

It was quite evident just how much of the crowd had learned, loved, and grown up with these lyrics, the absent voice of a 20-year-old Paul Weller still speaking to them over 25 years later.

Without pausing for breath, it was straight into two songs from All Mod Cons: To Be Someone (written about the fickleness of fame after The Jam returned from an abortive American tour and looked like splitting up) and Mr Clean.

Although many of the crowd were quite clearly original Jam fans (now in their late 30s or 40s), it was noticeable that The Gift have attracted a fair range of ages.

A couple of lads leaning on the barriers at the front next to me must have still been in high school, and behind me was a proud 40-something Dad who had brought his son along to show him a little bit of musical history.

Cranking out the power chords

Start! got the biggest cheer of the night. Dave Moore supplied that instantly familiar bassline (originally pinched from Taxman by The Beatles) and then Russell Hastings said: "This means more to me now that it did all those years ago," as Moore's bass led us into When You're Young.

The Gift
The Gift

I found myself glancing at those teenage lads, before a balding bloke in his 50s grabbed me affably by the shoulders and joined me in singing along at the top of our voices.

Weller's anti-Empire song Little Boy Soldiers - still oddly resonant in this era of British troops being sent into Iraq to protect oil interests - followed in quick succession, before Hastings reaches for an acoustic guitar.

This could only have meant one thing: That's Entertainment. It's traditionally an acoustic song and seeing as Rick Buckler on drums was the main attraction of the night, it was a bit funny seeing him sitting at the back doing almost nothing. That was until halfway through the song, when he picked up his sticks to add a full rhythm-track - then it actually made sense! 

Then Russell Hastings picked up his black Rickenbacker again and it was back to cranking out the power chords for Set This House Ablaze, In the Crowd and Happy Together - a personal favourite which I hadn't heard for ages.

Rick Buckler aka Superman

Tonight's gig worked because The Jam were a three-piece band. The rhythm section of Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton (now a member of Stiff Little Fingers) on bass were central to the band's sound, and it really was great to hear Rick playing the drums on all these songs for the first time in my life.

This is the Modern World was followed by Life From a Window and Bruce Foxton's finest hour, the suburban Kinks-esque tale of Smithers-Jones. And then, after Running on the Spot and Away from the Numbers (the B-side to debut single In the City), it was back to the hits.

The Gift
The Gift

The crowd shoved each other around amiably to the frenetic chug of A-Bomb in Wardour Street. You've got to hand it to Rick Buckler - he must be pushing 50 now, he'd been pounding away at his drum kit for over an hour like a man 30 years his junior, and he'd still got a smile on his face.

Maybe there's a hidden meaning to the Superman T-shirt that he'd added to his usual uniform of Levi Sta-Prest and basketball boots?

The main set was closed with two stormers: Strange Town and Funeral Pyre, which was the soundtrack to your correspondent walking up the path to school to collect his GCSE results almost half a lifetime ago.

An encore was then demanded and duly delivered. The Gift ambled back on and launched into the gentle psychedelia of The Butterfly Collector.

Maybe it was a nod to everyone's advancing years to allow us a little pause for breath, before they thundered into Eton Rifles and the place went mental again. They finished up with Down in the Tube Station at Midnight - a great conclusion to the evening and it was only 11.40pm.

So are The Gift just a tribute band? To be honest, I'm still not sure - but they're definitely worth an evening out!

last updated: 14/09/06
Go to the top of the page

Explore more of this section and the rest of the web:

Music elsewhere

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy