In 1977, there were few places burning quite so intently with the fervour of punk than The 100 Club on London’s Oxford street. Equally, there were few bands as imbued with the energy of the movement but with an eye on the future than Paul Weller’s The Jam.
Below, we’re taking a look back at one particularly powerful moment where those two entities converged to create a truly potent performance. So sit back and watch The Jam performing ‘In The City’ for a raucous London crowd back in 1977.
The Jam had become overnight sensations when they began touring the toilet circuit in their suits, sweating profusely and delivering raucous and electric performances. ‘In The City’ perhaps typifies that movement as the band arrived not only on the punk scene but in the charts too, finding itself on the top 40.
Paul Weller was just 18-years-old when he penned the anthem, dreaming of leaving his small town behind. The singer 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 added.
That excitement can be seen peeling the paint from the walls in the clip below. The footage, taken from the documentary Punk In London (1977) which aimed to capture the growing movement in the capital. Director Wolfgang Büld, sure did a great job of documenting the intensity of that performance, nailing the energy that Weller and the band brought to every gig.
Though this may be a small dose of the London punk scene it’s a viciously potent one. Sit back and take it all in as The Jam perform ‘In The City’ for the 100 club crowd back in 1977.