I was actually 16 years old in December 1982. When I heard about the Jam’s final farewell tour, like so many other kids of my age, I felt a bit dumb struck. The Jam were so important to me ( and to all of us at the time ). It’s ridiculous thinking about it now, the 40-something father that I am, but at the time, nothing else mattered as much Paul, Bruce and Rick and the music and movement that they had created. I was desperate to keep hold of something. I had seen the Jam on about twenty previous occasions. Every one of those gigs is a great memory for me. I really couldn’t believe it was all going to be over.
I wanted to get to as many concerts as possible on the tour but most importantly I wanted to be at the very last one. I remember it was scheduled to be the 2nd of December at Wembley. I spent all the money I had and got tickets for the 1st and the 2nd night. On the first date I went with a group of mates ( we had a great night out ) and the second night I went alone ( it was a personal thing ). They were both good gigs but not outstanding. Wembley Arena is so big, it was a terrible place to see the Jam. I was near the back, out to the side, somewhere in the Gods and very distant. Anyway, almost as soon as I had the bought the tickets for those shows they started announcing additional dates and Wembley went on for a further three days. I concentrated all my efforts on getting to the Guildford gig on the 10th of December. I scrapped enough money together to get to that one too ( an excellent night ) just before they announced Brighton gig ! I had to think quick.
I had a long suffering ex-girlfriend who lived in Worthing who I still had a remarkably good relationship with despite the fact that I treated her so badly in the past. I did a terrible thing and convinced her I was coming down to see her and asked if I could stay the night at her place. I told her we could go out to Brighton ! Of course, it didn’t take her that long to suss out why once she saw the sea of mods descending on the Brighton Centre. I figured I had the rest of my life to feel guilty about using her like this and at the time nothing else mattered anyway. She would get over it soon enough I thought.
So I jumped the train down to Worthing from my home in London and then we got another train together into Brighton. I don’t remember having any money on me at all. I might have had a couple of quid if that.
We hung around outside the centre watching the masses go in. The touts were asking ridiculous amounts of money for tickets. (they might have been asking for ten times the ticket price when I had about a quarter of it in my pocket ). The crowd were in a very somber mood. There wasn’t much celebrating going on and I remember there being some real heavy clouds overhead. I felt numb.
There were quite a few people hanging around outside without tickets, very few of the fans went away as they would normally do. I suppose like me no one wanted to leave even though the concert had already started and the doors were all but closed to us.. There was a group of kids giving it there best to get in and there were a bunch of weary security men acting oblivious to all the banter. I wasn’t really up to saying much at all.
I was giving this girl a great night out, I thought, standing in front of some closed glass doors at Brighton Centre in the freezing cold, barely saying a word to her and with a face on like some close family member had just died. Compassion was slowly getting the better of me and I think I must have shown her a brief moment of affection before gesturing to her that we might as well leave when the doors were opened and we were all ushered in. I don’t remember too many details after that. Absolute elation for the most part mixed with the inevitable sadness of the final goodbyes. I can remember hearing Going Underground very clearly but maybe it was after that that they let us in, I don’t know. We heard the whole gig from outside anyway albeit in muted tones. It was a very special night. There was so much more emotion than at the Wembley gigs. It was somehow more appropriate and definitely more intense.
After the gig we shuffled out into the night, I was relieved of course to have finally got in but I felt empty, it wasn’t nearly enough. There was just more silence. I hugged the girl and we went home. Bless her heart.
It has been great hearing the concert again. I have never seen or heard of any previous recordings of this show. It is a great reminder. Thanks to all concerned for sharing it.