The 65,000 people packed into Hyde Park to watch The Who, Paul Weller, Kaiser Chiefs and Johnny Marr last month and the millions that watched The Who headline Glastonbury was confirmation, if we needed it, that Mod culture is back big time. In fact it never went away. What is it about a youth culture that began in the sixties that means it continues to re invent itself? From American Ivy League through to Jamaican Rude Boys, football casuals to Acid Jazz, Britpop and more recent artists like The Strypes and Miles Kane. Actor Martin Freeman loves beautiful clothes and sixties soul and has a great haircut - so even Bilbo Baggins is a mod...
It's the style and way of life that refuses to go out of fashion - in many ways because it really is timeless. That's now admirably illustrated by an exhibition of The Jam memorabilia at Somerset House. A fascinating collection of artefacts mainly from the early days of the bands career including full stage set up, front covers of music papers, badges, master recordings from the studio and of course a collection of the sharpest of clothes. One couldn't help but wonder at how far Mod had come from the early days of pitch battles with rockers on Brighton Beach and the lurid national headlines. Mods were of course the second outburst of visible teen rebellion since the Second World War, the first being the arrival of rock n roll and smashed cinemas - the birth of the teenager. Teddy Boys though haven't had anywhere near the enduring power of Mod - so it's clear who won the war. It's big business too from Liam Gallagher's Pretty Green to Bradley Wiggins clothing line for Fred Perry and Weller modelling for British heritage brand DAKS. Brands have cottoned on to the fact that Mod sells - Clark's have their Originals range meaning the Desert Boot will adorn feet until the end of time. Fred Perry clocked this route years ago and have their Heritage range, which leverages their mod history.
Mod was very often routed in class. Working class young men who wanted to look super smart when they went out at the weekend and would save for months to buy the right clothes. Add into the mix a carefully selected mix of music, a penchant for drugs to keep them dancing all night and the desire to prove they were not defined by a dreary office job - and you have a template that can be repeated whatever the year.
The Who of course are the group that many identify with are recognised as the iconic mod group. I've very proud to have worked with the band for many years but they are the best example of the power of mod culture and surely one of our greatest rock acts. Don't just take my word for it, as one of the reviews put it "It was a few miles west of Hyde Park that 50 years ago Townshend, Daltrey and the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle created the soundtrack for the capital's original Mod scene - playing adrenaline (and more) fuelled vignettes of aspiring working class teenage life. And it was the band's ability to still thrill five decades on that was being celebrated here." Their Hyde Park show, which was the biggest in terms of tickets they've staged in the UK, followed swiftly by a headlining slot at Glastonbury, illustrates that they are now as relevant as they were in 1965 the year My Generation was released. So Mod marches on as another generation is inspired by the authenticity and unique Britishness of this movement.