The White Riot Tour
Support from in order:
Prefects, Subway Sect, The Buzzcocks, The Jam.

updated 7 Jan 2010 -added The Times Review

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the only known recording is 1977 filmed by Don Letts for the Punk Rock Movie. Juian Temple thought to have footage

As it is now, the Rainbow Theatre 2002.

The famous riot gig in which 200 seats were ripped out. Ecstatic fans could not sit down and as the Jam finished their set the mayhem began. The Clash opened with Londons Burning and fighting broke out.

Robert Lloyd of the Nightingales and the Prefects

Poptones: You toured with the Clash as the Prefects - was it during this event that you realised that the punk rock dream was not to come true?

Robert Lloyd: Absolutely, the very first gig we did with them at the rainbow (May 1977) put the kibosh on any notion we might have foolishly have had of a movement, revolution or whatever. the fortunate thing for us young, stupid kids was that this was really early in our, er, career and so we wasted less time running with the pack than we would have.

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The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks

Jon Savage, Sounds, 21 May 1977

Rock ‘n’ roll can be one of the few honest things left in this world.


An event, a gathering of the clans.


But it was all down to the Clash.


I missed the Prefects, first on (sorry) — and caught the second half of the Sect. It doesn't make too good sense talking about 'halves' with the Sect as one song merges into another and you can't hear the lyrics. Style v. content. They're so like a movie of a band playing at the Rainbow, being ridiculously static, that I love them. Lead singer Vic looks as though someone's hung their old school clothes on a peg and accidentally left their body inside them. Still, they don't seem to care too much and the audience don't either.

It's just strange seeing these bands at the Rainbow (with their titchy PAs) after being used to the view through an elbow at the Roxy, or the seedy funk of one nighters like the Coliseum. The Rainbow is inhibiting: it's so plush and massive, and there are bouncers as obtrusive as the police at the Carnival last year. I mean, the stage itself is about the size of the Roxy basement.

At first, the Buzzcocks don't know what to do with it. Pete Shelley hunches over his Starway and spits out the lyrics; Steve Diggle just concentrates — bassist Garth tries a few lumbering runs that don't make it. But the music's great. The Great Lost Band — they aren't as assertive as other new wave bands, but another few months, plenty of gigs and (hopefully) record company investment and they'll be one of the best. Their sound is tight and controlled, carefully playing on their limitations. At the bottom is the drone of thousands of German bombers flying high — a grumbling growl — on top monotone vocals and rushed, desperate lyrics. Little inspired touches: the siren guitar in 'Boredom', and the car honks in 'Fast Cars'. Apart from the familiar 'Orgasm Addict' and '16', a new song, 'Whatever Happened To?', sounds excellent. Pertinent.. They encore with 'Times Up' and everyone begins to get loose.

There's plenty of action at the bar during all this, which only stops when the Clash come on. A social occasion, a gathering. A rarity in public as the supply of sympathetic places dries up — a new venue, please. And while we're on about it, the Seat Shock Horror was utterly unavoidable: people don't want to sit down: the music isn't about that at all. Movement and Energy. I mean, fixed seats are totally ridiculous. In the planning of venues for these gigs, it doesn't seem to be too much to ask that the few front rows be removed, as they were at Harlesden. They get removed anyway, very dangerously, so why not? And, furthermore, in contrast to the media idiocy, the atmosphere was very cool, relaxed even. They just aren't used to people leaping around and enjoying themselves actively.

As soon as the Jam arrive, we know that they're full of presence. They take that stage by the scruff of its neck and don't let go. The audience responds immediately. As usual, it's two tone time — you could take these guys home to your granny. Very commercial, and hot with it — they're incredibly tight, flash and energetic. Non stop bop: they revel in their and the audience's enjoyment. In fact the place starts going apeshit with a real excitement. Impressive. Only one real criticism: they steamroller 'Midnight Hour' and lose most of it — 'Batman' gets to be very tedious very quickly. (And please, not too much Conservative Party PR, hey, guys?)

And now we're in a different league. Simply, I thought the Clash performance here tonight was one of the best I've ever seen. Now — it's testament time. I last saw them in November 1976 at the RCA. A classic confrontation. And to me, they were so real, so raw, that I was totally turned around, provoked, galvanized into action. For that, if nothing else, my undying respect.

Six months on, they haven't lost that. They can communicate just as directly and devastatingly with 3,000 people, as opposed to 300. An amazing feat. Obviously, they've knocked off some of the rough edges, and what was once spontaneous has become a little more stylized. That's fine: to conquer the Rainbow, you just can't amble on — some elements of a show are needed. One of these is staging: at the back of the stage is a 25 foot backdrop, a blow up of the back cover of the album or a similar shot. Next, lights flash — burning pink and orange, as well the more conventional colours.

As soon as the band come on, there's an incredible electric tension — they're so much a part; of London, England, 1977 that it's painfully intense. An awe-inspiring 'London's Burning' with Strummer framed for an instant in ice-blue for the last word — '1984'. Most of the material is from the LP: they didn't do 'Pressure Drop' (shame) and there was only one new song, 'Capital Radio'.

So, their performance. They've changed from their three-front-men days: Strummer is much more to the forefront. That leaves Mick and Paul much more room to play: and they do, beautifully. One neglected aspect, among the sociology and mythologizing of the album, was the playing. I mean, great rock 'n' roll, man! A sensibility second to none. 'Police and Thieves', where they stretch out, is a real moment.

Strummer is emerging as one of the great front men. I could isolate it, briefly, to four moments. His involvement and encouragement of the drummer, the new kid, Nick, hidden almost behind the drums. , His rush to the backdrop behind the band at the end of 'Police and Thieves' — mingling with photo-police, he stands apart yet with the rest of the band. Suddenly, he holds the mike out to the audience, offering it to them. During the first encore, 'Garage Land', he reaches out into the audience, shakes hand and swaps his shirt for some guy's T-shirt.

Look: the audience/performer barrier has been smashed in a rare moment of tenderness and solidarity. A triumph... I'm thinking they could just have that once-in-a-generation thing. Today North Ken, tomorrow the…
© Jon Savage, 1977

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from the Punk Rock Movie,
the only known track

3 tracks were filmed;
White Riot - Harlesdon Colliseum/March
1977 - Rainbow/9 May
Garageland - White Riot Tour/Unknown

Les InRocks [French][2003]

The Clash, The Jam, The Buzzcocks: The Rainbow Theatre, London
Live Review by Jon Savage,
Sounds, 21 May 1977
Rock ‘n’ roll can be one of the few honest things left in this world. Yes. An event, a gathering of the clans. Yes. But it was all down to ...

Caught in the Act
Melody Maker 14 May 1977

Marcus Gray Last Gang in Town
pages ? -?

The Times

Times 11 May 1977

Q Magazine Punk Special June 2002

The Sun 11 May 1977 Punk Wreck!

Sounds back stage [photos] at the Rainbow

Erica Echenberg 17 Photos

White Riot full page ad
with dates

The Jam quit White Riot Tour
Melody Maker Mid May 77

Oct 77 - Unknown Fanzine
page 1 page 2 page 3

Tour Poster

Full page ad

Greatness from Garageland
Peter Silverton, Trouser Press, February 1978
UNANNOUNCED, TO SAY the least, a kid in boots, suspenders and short-cropped hair clambers through the photographers' pit and up onto the stage of London's Rainbow Theatre. Benignly ignored by band, stage crew and security alike...

White Riot T-Shirt

Clash Landing
Search and Destroy Fanzine
Clash Interviewed by Annette Weatherman and Vermilion Sands
A lengthy interview with Joe, Mick & Paul in 1977. It was published in Search & Destroy mag out of San Francisco. It was the first word of the Clash in print in the U.S. Birmingham Rag Marktt & Sweden gigs referenced.

Last year Paul Dougherty posted this treasure on his blog When p**k was a work in progress, where it then went unaccountably ignored.

May 1

Civic Hall, Guilford

May 2 Rascals, Chester
May 3 Barbarella, Birmingham
May 4 Affair, Swindon
May 5 Erics, Liverpool
May 6 University, Aberdeen
May 7 Playhouse, Edinburgh
May 8 Electric Circus, Manchester
May 9 Rainbow, London
infamous riot gig - often mis-cited as the 7th. See 7th gig at Edinburgh with Edinburgh Ticket
May 10 Town Hall, Kidderminster
Following an injury to his hand, Mick Jones of the Clash is forced to cancel the gig booked for Kidderminster Town Hall.
May 10

Stourbridge Town Hall

May 12 Palais, Nottingham
May 13 Polytechnic, Leicester
May 14 Brakke Grond Amsterdam

Vlaams Cultuurhuis De Brakke Grond

May 15 Fiesta, Plymouth
May 16 University, Swansea
May 17 Polytechnic, Leeds
May 19 Rock Garden, Middlesborough
May 20 University, Newcastle
May 21 City Hall, St. Albans
May 22 Skindles, Maidenhead cancelled
May 22 Wolverhampton Civic Hall
The Clash played a replacement gig at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on May 22 1977. This gig was played literally days after The Jam departed the tour. Rumour had it there was a dispute about the use of lighting on the tour. Buzzcocks, Slits and Subway Sect supported. The ticket stub did not have the bands name printed on, but had a "complimentary" stamp across it and the price written on. It was however an official Civic Hall ticket.
May 23 Top Of The World, Stafford
May 24 Top Rank, Cardiff, Wales
White Riot 1977 was Clash at their superlative best – from Cardiff’s Top Rank balcony the front of stage appeared a pogoing and spitting frenzy. Against the Notting Hill Riot backdrop, Joe’s eye’s burning and neck pulsing, his lyrics spat out with such white heat intensity - I wondered if he could survive another year! Dave Smitham
May 25 University of Sussex, Brighton
Filmed by students. 10 of 15 tracks have been put online. 4 of these released offfially by Sony on the SoundsySytem Boxset.
May 26 Colston, Bristol
May 27 Pavilion, West Runton
May 28 Odeon, Canterbury
probably didn't happen...
May 28 De Montfort Hall, Leicester
date listed in NME...This is often listed as CARDIFF 77. It isn't.
May 29 Chancellor Hall, Chelmsford
May 30 California Ballroom, Dunstable