On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, we hear the incredible story of Reaction – a Mod-influenced band from Burton-on-Trent, formed in November 1980 by Bruno Gallone.
It was a real delight to hear Bruno’s incredible story from creating the band before he could even play an instrument to their first gig a few weeks later at the Guild Street Mod night in Burton….
What came next sounds too good to be true… but yes it actually happened…. on this podcast chat we dig in to the quite frankly ridiculously brilliant story of how, just a year later, the band got to support their heroes, The Jam, at the Hammersmith Palais in London (15th Dec 1981).
Playing mainly in venues throughout the midlands and London, REACTION played with passion and energy building a strong following in the Mod Revival scene, playing their own headline shows and with the likes of Secret Affair, Purple Hearts, and The Lambrettas amongst others.
Although there were several personnel changes throughout their short time, they stayed fiercely loyal to their beliefs and especially their home town, right up until their very last gig in May 1982.
Bruno returned to music in 2006 as a solo artist, and during lockdown ended up creating new music with Reaction for an album that celebrated their part in the Mod Revival.
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…
EP165 – Bruno Gallone – on his Mod band, Reaction, supporting The Jam and more… – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
2022 – This is Now. That was Then – Reaction
It was during discussions with Heavy Soul records around a compilation entry for Reaction music that Bruno came up the ida of creating six new songs that are very much in the old Reaction style.
Recorded by the band remotely they celebrate the nostalgic sounds of years gone by. Those tracks have been paired with six recordings from 1981 – all fully restored and available on CD or 12″ vinyl.
The release comes with double sided info sheet with original flyers etc.
Buy the vinyl or the CD from Heavy Soul…
1981 – Reaction – Can You See Me
I still love this song even now… I remember writing it while working in the Gas Shop in Burton on sunny a Aug afternoon. I could actually hear the song as I was writing the lyrics and I couldn’t wait to play it to the rest of the band. It used to go down really well at gigs and i remember when we played it in the soundcheck supporting The Jam, it was the one song that made Paul Weller stop and look up from playing cards.
This was REACTION’s best recorded song.
Written on a warm August day back in 1981 and recorded a month later.
The Letter to John Weller
I had some nerve and bravado back then… REACTION had only played their first gig two months earlier, yet here I am asking The Jam for a gig …by this time The Jam had already had released 12 singles in the charts and had 2 number 1’s !!….. little did I know, by the end of the year, it would actually happen..
Tuesday 15th December 1981
Pictures from The Jam on stage on the night and soundcheck + Reaction…
Press article about REACTION’s forthcoming gig on the London Rainbow stage back in 1981.
20th April 1981, REACTION played their first London gig at The White Hart in Southall…
Reaction – The Final Line-Up (Nov’81 – May’82)
This line-up did most of the London gigs, including supporting the likes of The Jam, Secret Affair, Purple Hearts & Small World.
Bruno Gallone, Dave Ffrench, Andrew Redfern and Marc Wishart, replacing Trev Wood on Drums.
One of Bruno’s favourite live photos. Feb 14th 1981 at Guild Street Mod Night.
He got the jacket from a second hand street market in Italy…
Notes from Bruno – Memorable Gigs – Supporting The Jam 15th Dec 1981 (Part 1 –The Soundcheck)
When we met up early Tuesday morning at the van hire company, I can’t quite describe the emotion I was personally feeling – we were actually going to support The Jam! This band I had followed and breathed for the past four years. I had seen them so many times already, had everyone of their records, knew every single lyric …and now we were going to share the same stage… after only one year of forming the band..it just seemed crazy that it was actually going to happen!
I can only liken it to having won the lottery and we were on our way to be presented with the cheque.
Having picked up the hire van, loaded our equipment, me, Dave, Andy and our two roadie mates, Gav and Steve, set off from Burton for the three-hour journey to London. In our convoy was Marc, our drummer and Kungy (Drum roadie), in his car and also Ian (our manager) and Mick (another mate and photographer) in his marina van.
Obviously, we arrived in Hammersmith way too early, so parked up in a side street and headed into a pub to burn some time. After nursing our one pint each for three hours, it was time to head off.
We arrived at the famous Hammersmith Palais, unloaded the van and car and pushed through the doors.
I had been to a lot of the Jam soundchecks before over the years band seen the numbers grow from a handful to 40 plus but I certainly wasn’t expecting the 500 or so there on that day. As we got all the equipment in, we stood at the back to watch the soundcheck.
John Weller came over to see us “Which one is Bruno then?” he asked. I lifted my finger. He then shook my hand, put his arm over my shoulder and said “Alright lad? Are you ready for this?” I just nodded.
“Great” He said. “We’re just running a bit late cause the guys want to do a few numbers for everyone here, so take your stuff over to the far left of the stage. Once The Ruts have done, you lot get your stuff on the stage quickly”.
I guess it meant, as The Jam had played their the previous night, there would have been no need normally for them to do a soundcheck again but The Jam would have never wanted to disappoint. .
Straight after John walked away, Paul Weller walked in past us. He looked round and just said “Alright!”. We nodded back trying to look cool and “band like”, when Ian (our Manager) said (very loudly) “ Is that Paul Weller?”. Although, Paul smiled, we could have died in that moment ….
After The Ruts soundcheck we were about to take our drums on stage, when they suggested we use their drum kit, so we had a bit more room – like everyone on that day, they were really nice with us and it such a great gesture, which we obviously accepted.
When we got on to the stage, none of the Jam soundcheck audience had left, so it was quite a crowd we were going to play in front of. After all the various individual checks, we were asked to do one song all the way through. As I walked back up to the mic, I could see Paull Weller at the side of the stage playing cards on one of the equipment cases with a couple of their roadies. John Weller was at the back standing with Rick and Bruce was chatting with his then girlfriend.
We then burst in to our best song, Can You See Me.
The sound quality through the enormous speakers and PA was amazing and without doubt, the best we’d ever sounded. I could see John Weller and Rick raise eyebrows, half smiling, moving along to the music. Then I noticed Paul Weller look up, look to his Dad and nodded with approval. I can’t tell you how much that moment meant and how it has stayed with me.
After we came of the stage, we were shown to our dressing room… with Reaction written on the door! (our own dressing room!…we couldn’t believe it!?)
Inside was a sea of sandwiches and various drinks. To say we thought “we’d made it” at that moment in time, was an understatement.
Nowadays, bands do their soundchecks and clear off back to their hotels, only coming back when they were on but for this gig, everyone stayed. So, for the next three hours or so, we all mixed together and we spent a lot of time chatting to The Ruts, Bananarama and also the Fun Boy Three.
Rick Buckler came over to me and Marc as we finished chatting to Terry Hall from the Fun Boy Three. He was holding an envelope of photos he’d taken from a gig at Granby Halls in Leicester and asked what we thought. They were all of roof tops scenes and he then asked us to choose our favourite. The one we chose… became the cover of the Absolute Beginners single.
I had a long chat with Paul Weller talking about music, styles and our ambition for the future and as were stood at the top leaning over the balcony talking, the main doors opened, and the crowd started to run in and make their way to the front. He turned to me and said “I think you need to think about getting ready, don’t you?”.
The Gig by Bruno Gallone (from Facebook)
I am often asked “What was it like to support The Jam?”….
The best way I can describe it, is here below. Taken from a section of a chapter of a book, I may one day write about REACTION :
15th December 1981
“REACTION, REACTION” Standing by the side of the stage, I watched and listened in a slight haze.
Some of the crowd gave out one more chant, “REACTION…..REACTION “, before the hall music came on and cheering slowly stopped. I looked at the 4,000 strong audience and was overcome with an emotion which I simply couldn’t explain.
Suddenly I was sweating and shaking and tears started to form in my eyes. I guessed it was some kind of delayed shock but it felt weird, almost like a real high but with a sense of loss too.
I could hear the rest of the band behind me running down the stage stairs laughing and high fiving but I just stood alone, unseen behind the enormous PA speakers, looking at the crowd.
“We’d done it”, I though to myself. “We’d only gone and done it!
We’ve just supported The Jam”! The f**ing Jam!
My band Reaction from little Burton on Trent, had stood up there, at the Hammersmith Palais and actually shared the same stage as Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler”.
I still could not believe that it was only one year ago to the day since our very first gig at the Mod Night in Guild street, Burton on Trent and yet here I was, having just supported my heroes.
I stood a little bit longer, almost in a trance and looked at the audience through my wet eyes when suddenly a hand grabbed my shoulder and a voiced boomed out behind me, “No f**king encores”
I turned around, as if awoken out of a sleep and standing behind me was the imposing figure of Kenny, the big bearded head roadie of The Jam.
“I said, no f**king encores”.
“No of course not” I said with a puzzled expression “I just wanted to take in the moment one last time”.
“Yeah, whatever” Kenny said, “you’ve had your moment, now get off the f**king stage.”
As I walked down the stairs, passing the row of The Jam’s Rickenbacker guitars, I was met by our roadies, Steve and Gav. In truth, were just really great mates who were helping us out since the very beginning and had been as much part of Reaction as the rest of the band.
“What are you doing? Steve said “We’ll get the stuff off the stage”.
“No it’s not that Steve” I said, looking back once more. “ I just didn’t want it to end and I have a feeling that this was the best it will ever be. I wanted one last look. I don’t think Reaction or me for that matter will ever better this moment”
“Rubbish, this is just the beginning. It will be you headlining next time” Steve said as he pushed past on the stairs.
But I knew deep down in my heart, that it wasn’t true.
Further encounters… by Bruno
A year after REACTION supported The Jam, Brun was in London with, sadly now the late, Pete Dolman (a really talented local musician from Burton), helping him take his music around various record companies.
After coming out of Polydor records, I spotted Paul Weller in a cafe. I went in to give him one of Pete’s tapes. As I walked up to him, he held out his hand and said, “it’s Bruno from Reaction”. I tried to play it very cool but inside I was saying “WTF! he remembered me” Pete was completely blown away and to him I was suddley the coolest person he knew .
We chatted for a bit and then I asked him if he’d have a listen to Pete’s tape and let me know what he thought. I also gave him a single from Burton band Daryl and the Chapperones (later became Wizz for Atoms)…..amazingly he wrote to me! I wrote back and the he wrote back again!!… and here are the letters to prove it …
Absolute Foundations – December 1981
Back when REACTION supported The Jam, we were asked to put together a biog with band photo for a programme to be called Absolute Foundations for the four Dec gigs. Sadly, all that was printed was these front and back sleeves… so we “liberated” a few of them from our dressing room for prosperity .
Dennis Munday… from Bruno…
Some of my many REACTION correspondences with Dennis Munday the Jam’s A&R Manager for Polydor Records. And what a top man, he always either replied, took my call and even on occasions, saw me in person..