Thanks to Andy Bean who sent this in November 2011
Clash’s first Friars show in June 1978. There was obviously some trepidation
about having them play, especially after the Dunstable show in January, which
ended in chaos (I hid in the support band’s dressing room while cans and bottles
rained down outside!). Hence the leaflet given out to the audience as they went
in, asking them to behave themselves. The show was amazing, but fortunately
untroubled. Me, i thought it would be funny to get the Clash to autograph my
leaflet after the show. Not at all funny, in retrospect, but a nice little
memento. Here it is!
Sounds, 8 July 1978
FOR PEOPLE who like to put things in neat little pecking orders – and because of
our conditioning there's a lot of them – the Clash are the Big Boys now, THE
punk establishment. Well, the Damned have split; the Stranglers aren't cool, are
they?; and with Johnny in cold storage the Ex Pistols are nothing more than
Uncle Malcie's marionettes, mainlining on the puerile publicity of negative
outrage Jolly shocking, what?
Saddening more like. So the mantle of 'leadership' falls unwelcome on the Clash,
which naturally makes them an easy and obvious target for the facile bitching
that often passes for 'informed comment' in certain sections of the music
industry. Pete Silverton highlighted it all a fortnight ago... that not seeing
them and the wait for the album had nurtured all that "they're finished/they
were never that good" bullshit. So this, the first of the tongue-in-cheek Clash
on Parole tour, was a chance to prove that all wrong.
And the message to the 1800 white men and women in Aylesbury Friar's only
looking for fun (and everybody else out there) is: don't believe the media
hyperbole, forget the 'fame', any group are as good as they play. Do they make
you dance? Question? DO something?
SURPRISE number one last Thursday were support group The Specials (as they'd
been known for four whole hours. were formerly the Automatics which was very
confusing far the other Automatics, you know, the tanks rolled over Poland
ones). The Specials are a five piece multi-racial punk reggae group from
Coventry, and the two cultures don't so much clash as entertainingly
intermingle. Whereas Clash play punk songs and reggae songs, The Specials'
ditties combine elements of the two.
Yeah it sounds a phoney not to say disjointed formula but, surprise, surprise,
it worked. Song titles that stuck in mind included 'Its Up To You', 'Dawning Of
A New Era', 'Wake Up' and 'Concrete Jungle' which give an idea of stance even
though I couldn't make out the lyrics from where I was standing.
They finished on a nifty nostalgic version of 'Liquidator' and encored with
'Naked' which sounded uncannily like 'Big 8' before racing up to an accelerating
pogoable pace and the final frantic finish. Oi! Skin'ead, that ought to appeal
to your sense of heritage. The Specials have been playing the West Midlands for
a year. The vocalist sounded like Pete Shelley, the bassist's movements were a
bit naff, but what the hell? They're competent, and enjoyable. Check 'em out.
THE KIDS had come for the Clash tho', and no one should have been disappointed.
Tonight they were the best I've ever seen 'em and this was my fourth time...
twice before at the Finsbury Park stalag with its security goons and fixed
seats, and once at Vicky Park where the sound system sabotaged the set. This
time there were no goons, no chairs, an 1800 capacity crowd and dynamite sound.
They kicked off with 'Complete Control', Strummer as ever shaking like a
lunatic, and then it was a machinegun drum burst and into the first of the
unrecorded songs, 'Tommy Gun'. Christ, no wonder they call Topper "the rhythm
machine", his drumming gets better and better, solid, sharp building blocks for
the others to construct the choones over. There were 16 songs tonight, half of
them unrecorded, none of them substandard. In fact the only shadow over the set
was the crowd's conservatism.
A lot of the kids looked like last year's media images, right down to the
swastikas, safety-pins and spitting, and it was obvious they really wanted the
records churned out, and consequently didn't give the new songs the reception
they deserved. I didn't get all the titles but new ones on me were 'Cheapskates'
and 'All the Young Punks' ("This song is for punk rock which is the only thing
that's happened in this country in living memory". Loud cheers). 'The English
Civil War' is instantly accessible, based on the American Civil War song 'When
Johnny Comes Marching Home Again'.
Only this time Johnny's come on the bus and the tube, and this civil war's
already started, see Grunwicks, Lewisham, Brick Lane. Sure Clash are political,
but there's a false dichotomy between their politics and fun. Clash politics
aren't about being Boyson, Tyndall or Tony Benn, they're about living. Living is
about surviving and having fun. Not about any electronic god or walking the dog.
Not about passivity and acceptance.
That's why their politics are more convincing than Uncle Tom's. And that's why
they hit me so hard 18 months ago when I was living on the sprawling wasteland
the GLC call White City Estate just a gobaway from the throb, throb, throb of
the West Way. Clash have always been best when they're trading on raw anger.
Songs like 'London's Burning', 'Complete Control', and 'Capital Radio' are
vitriolic power bursts seeping with gut conviction. 'Capital Radio' was probably
their finest moment tonight. 'White Man' ("This one's no.32 in the charts – I'm
so excited") is a really powerful anthem live, specially as Mick's solo was five
times better than the studio version.
That "Burton suits/rebellion into money/Hitler" bit is a mighty two fingers to
all that Thamesbeat media powerpap. What else? There was Paul at his best on
'Police and Thieves' (with last year's backdrops) which succeeded in turning the
crowd into one heaving, seething slow pogoing mass. Mick over vocals for 'Jail
Guitar Doors'; and 'Garageland' still sounds convincing even though the
equipment shows they've long abandoned working in carbon monoxide fumes.
There were three other new songs which indicate there'll be no softening up on
the new album either musically or lyrically. And finally the crowd pleasing
encores: 'I'm So Bored', 'Janie Jones' and 'White Riot'. All this and only the
first night of the tour too! Enough to invalidate any lingering misgivings; as
long as they still generate the sort of buzz of excitement you get when you skip
off school for the first time at 13 they'll still be the Clash we know and love.
What more can a poor boy say? 'Cept perhaps to warn them not to play any more
open air gigs. I hear there's a bunch of loose-boweled pigeons from High
Anxiety just dying to get their own back.
© Garry Bushell, 1978