The Jam: ‘About The Young Idea’ review

By Harry Davies, Maricourt High School

Politically influenced British band, The Jam were formed in Woking, Surrey during 1972. Five years later, their debut album ‘In the City’ was released which flew into the top 40 charts.

Despite the band’s members being fluid in the beginning and only playing at minor gigs in local pubs, the band started to become more solid.

With Bruce Foxton taking over bass duties and Paul Weller adopting a more primary role, the pair developed a combined lead/rhythm guitar style influenced by The Who.

The Jam began to get a following in London and were recognised for their ‘angry young men’ outlook and wore neatly tailored suits when other punk bands wore ripped clothes. This allowed them to be seen as more professional rather than defiantly amateurish like their peers.

The final line-up consisted of Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, whose combined style brought a contemporary social and political background to their experimental rock music. Influenced by mainstream 60s rock and R&B, both sound and style set them apart. Their individuality against the rest of the music world with regards to lyrics, background and fashion, made the unique band one of the most popular and iconic of the time, representing youth, hope and unity.

After the exhibition proved to be highly popular in London last year, curators Russell Reader, Den Davis and Paul’s sister, Nicky Weller, have brought ‘The Jam: About the Young Idea’ exhibition to Liverpool, cramming the Cunard Building full with an extensive collection of various memorabilia, larger in both size and diversity than that of the Somerset House display.

It welcomes visitors firstly with a tunnel that shows many posters from numerous different gigs the band has had, which gives a view of how their fans were attracted to the performances. Then it moves on to a famous quote from John Weller who was the manager of his son Paul throughout his career until he died in 2009.

The first exhibit is a recreation of the set that the band played in for the very last time at Brighton Pier in 1982. The Jam’s peak is considered to be at the very end as Weller decided for the band to split while at their best; this exhibit gives visitors a feel of the atmosphere experienced at the band’s final appearance and it features the original equipment and the live music that was played.

Throughout the exhibition, there are other performances played on big screens which is especially beneficial for young people visiting the exhibition as many weren’t even born when the band split up.

In some of the many large displays, there are older collections of family photographs, old scrapbooks and journals plus lots of artwork and poetry displayed in old schoolbooks. This shows visitors their talent and artistic ability even during their youth.

As well as giving the opportunity to see the band’s evolution from the beginning, the exhibition also portrays a lot that younger visitors can relate to, such as lots of evidence for the struggle of young people at the time, the band members’ greatest ambitions as adolescents and simply just what their lives were like as children. It may inspire some to see one of the greatest bands having such a humble beginning.

As visitors approach the middle of the exhibition, the centrepiece appears. A large circular stand boasts items such as mannequins with many individual outfits that the band’s members wore. Customised motorbikes share the centre of attention with a large recreation of the ‘All Mod Cons’ album cover on the wall. This proves to be a visually exciting section of the exhibition that will be a favourite amongst younger children.

There is a lot of rare and valuable memorabilia within the huge collection too, such as customised guitars, limited edition records and various items loaned from the celebrities who own them.

Throughout the exhibition, there are television sets that outline news headlines from each year of the band’s duration. This gives younger people an insight into what life was like around that time and puts the band’s creations into context, reminding people what the punk rock band’s influences were.

In the same way the exhibition is giving the youth of today a genuine idea of what life was like in the late 70s/early 80s, the band were genuinely interested in their fans and gave younger ones a realistic and honest picture of life in that time through music, which a lot of people can enjoy and connect with.

The Jam had a very admirable characteristic of being legitimately interested in their fans which has been somewhat inherited into today’s society. All of this gives an insight into the youth culture of the time and how it compares to now, which is arguably one of the exhibition’s most valuable meanings.

Even though the band split up in 1982, the mark they made has remained a big influence across many genres and the impression they’ve left has affected both the musical and political world we live in today.

The exhibition shows great value for money, being jam-packed with the most exclusive memorabilia of the band and it has tons of information and interactivity. The ticket prices only cost £9.50, with discounts for off-peak times.

It offers an authentic journey through the lives of The Jam and their influences on society, both then and now.

The Jam: ‘About The Young Idea’ is open at the Cunard Building until Sunday 25 September 2016, don’t be the one who misses out!

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