The Clash play the first of 3 nights at London's Rainbow Theatre. Tickets range from £2.50 to £1.75. Finally the Clash have been allowed to appear in London, and ironically the venue responsible is the very place they played earlier this year during their obstacle-ridden White Riot tour. The band continue to improve and experiment, their last single, "Complete Control", forging a dynamic link with reggae through famed producer Lee. Perry. When on form they can be stunning...but flaws are never far away read review...
THE CLASH had just launched into their first encore on the Tuesday night, "London's Burning," when the security, which the band had promised would be "low-key," spilled over into viciousness as a kid who was trying to get up on stage was smashed.
The group stopped playing immediately, horrified, and Mick Jones pulled the fan up on stage. Then, for both that song and for "White Riot," they let the kid chip in on vocals.
And I don't mean they just tolerated him the dream-come-true bloke probably sang more of both numbers than Joe Strummer. How many other bands can you imagine allowing that to happen?
But that's what Clash are all about, speaking for, with, and from working-class youth, instead of talking down to them; it's what made their album such a complete work of art, so burningly, passionately true; it's what made the synthesis of a mythic harmonica-note and the lines "I don't wanna hear about what the rich are doing / I don't wanna go to where the rich are going/They think they're so clever, they think they're so right/ But the truth is only known by guttersnipes" so moving when I first heard them in "Garageland."
But listen. Why the hell are the Clash playing the Rainbow anyway? Everybody knows the place's appalling heavy security record. But quite apart from that, the place is far too big - the punk revolt was necessary because of just this kind of enforced performer-audience distance. Another thing - frenzy-music is meant to be danced to, which means it's positively wrong for the Clash to play in a seated hall. And if they're going to remain true, they should stop singing "Garageland" now. It's precisely because I love the Clash that I have to say all this - they mustn't sell out (yes, that phrase again, but it does mean something).
As for the gig, maybe the situation and my being up in the Circle away from the tumult had something to do with it, but they didn't get to me as I know they can. The worst thing about any Clash performance is their vocals - Joe Strummer's voice is so rough and fragmented (great on record) that not only is it impossible to hear the words unless you know them already, but it's even difficult some of the time to discern the tunes.
One reason why the Clash didn't seem as impressive as usual was that they were following Sham 69, who gave another magnificent performance. Everything about their powerfully emotional work is genuine, heartfelt and I'd trust Jimmy Pursey with my life.
- (Chris Brazier - Melody Maker 24th December 1977)
De Klinker, Wimschoten, Holland.
Rochester Castle, London
Music Machine, London
DEAD FINGERS TALK
University Of London, London