Revisiting The Jam’s riotous performance of ‘In The City’ from 1977
This week marks 43 years since The Jam announced their arrival onto the scene with their riotous debut single ‘In The City’, a track which immediately stopped Britain in their tracks and the mod revival would then be born.
The impressionable three-piece warmed themselves to angry teens across the country from the get-go, instantly connecting to Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler who, in appearance, looked like people they would associate with and, opposing to the mainstream musicians of the time, not some pop star who appears to have been dropped down from an alien planet.
‘In The City’ would reach Number 40 in the UK singles chart and go on to start their run of 18 consecutive singles that would make the Top 40.
Weller, just 18-years-old when he penned the anthem dreaming of leaving his small town behind, recalled writing the track in a reflective interview with Q Magazine 2011: “It was the sound of young Woking, if not London, a song about trying to break out of suburbia,” he said. “As far as we were concerned, the city was where it was all happening; the clubs, the gigs, the music, the music. I was probably 18, so it was a young man’s song, a suburbanite dreaming of the delights of London and the excitement of the city.”
The Modfather continued: “It was an exciting time to be alive. London was coming out of its post-hippy days and there was a new generation taking over. The song captured that wide-eyed innocence of coming out of a very small community and entering a wider world, seeing all the bands, meeting people, going to the clubs, and the freedom that it held.”
The track was inspired by living life as a teenager who, in search of more culture, headed into the big smoke to see the great and the good of punk rock of the late 1970s—the same scene that shaped Weller during his adolescence: “I wrote this after I’d seen the Pistols and The Clash and I was obviously into my Who phrase. I just wanted to capture some of that excitement,” he said.
Weller certainly captured that excitement and took that punk rock anger from bands like The Clash and then intertwined that with his love of The Who which led to extraordinary results. This rare footage of the Woking teenagers performing the track from 1977 at Manchester’s Electric Circus encapsulates all of the above and some, watch it below.