Sort it Out Tour
Supported by the Innocents and the Slits.

Last updated 7 July 2008 - page started
updated Dec 2014 - added poster


The Clash/The Slits: Village Bowl, Bournemouth
Kris Needs, ZigZag, December 1978

IT'S 5.30 in the morning and for some reason I'm stuck on a ledge halfway down a several hundred foot cliff overhanging Bournemouth beach... And I only came here to see The Clash!

Still, I'll leave y'all biting your nails and get to that later. Right now the matter in hand is The Clash, sorting out this seaside town a few dates into what looks like their most successful tour yet.

Yes, I was looking forward to this gig. Last time I'd seen The Clash was at the Music Machine in July, when a healthy dollop of Give 'em Enough Rope was included in the set. Since then Joe and Mick have had their lengthy US sojourn to finish the album, the record has at last come out, they've done Harlesden and Europe and wound up in a mess of management troubles. All along there has been the worst press flak of their career, a seemingly concentrated anti-Clash barrage – a switch from when they couldn't put a foot wrong and were called the Best Group in the World every week.

Well, ever since I first saw The Clash supporting in a Leighton Buzzard hall over two years ago in front of a handful of rabid admirers and apathetic hippies (who probably love 'em now) they've been me main band, and nothing could shake that. I always believed, despite what I read or people said to the contrary, that they were something special, that they cared and were setting their sights higher than most groups can think. If you think this is leading up to a "but now they've finally sold out" punch-line, piss off! They ain't. On a big record label reaching thousands of people they still fight, 'cept it's big business instead of rumbling stomachs, and hold true to The Clash – a group you kids can talk to, listen to, dance to and feel to.

Today they're stronger than they've ever been (although pretty hurt that there are few early allies who haven't fallen by the wayside or betrayed them as they follow their straight but obstacle-strewn path). The group seems internally strong four-ways, is sounding better and this tour is reeling 'em in...and it looks like 'Tommy Gun' could bust open the charts (even "Tone" played it, well had to, when it was a heat of some contest).

Tonight in Bournemouth Village Bowl, a huge place which looks like an underground car park, The Clash turn in just the set to lay to rest any doubts that they've "lost it", "got slick" or "turned rock stars".

They played with all the spontaneous combustion and attack they would muster in The Old Days at places like High Wycombe Nags Head, careering through the songs despite technical hitches onto an accelerating escalator of white hot intensity, eventually dissolving into...well, tonight Joe finished the set with a solo just-me-an'-my-guitar rendition of 'London's Burning' while being swamped by singalongaClashers. Reason was, Mick's lead went in 'Complete Control' (first encore) and as luck would have it the replacement was a dud! By the end of the Mick-less song all I could see from my square two inches was the black-clad guitarist's arms flailing yards of tangled cable in the air like an octopus. The number finished he ran off...presumably to get a replacement – and the bouncer wouldn't let him back on! Thought he was a stage invader and tried to strangle him! Exit Paul and Topper in confusion. But Joe starts up 'London's Burning' and Paul reappears to play along (Topper can't 'cos he left his podium through the drumkit, it fell over).

With the stage a mass of singing kids and roadies fighting to save the gear the set screeches to a chaotic, premature end. Cue Barry Myers and his sound system.

But I leap forward. Before the flood The Clash had delivered an hour of electricity which made me feel great. Most of Rope (even 'Julie'), an explosive treatment of 'I Fought The Law' (Crickets but better known by Bobby Fuller), plus singles, B sides and a select few survivors from the first album.

It was the best sound I've heard 'em get – clear, balanced but demonically powerful – and with that advantage plus the howling thousands and the group's high-speed calorie burn-up, they couldn't go far wrong.

Earlier I saw The Slits for the first time with their new drummer Budgie (ex-Big in Japan). It was a t'rill (sorry). No, seriously I was bowled over to see The Slits – one of my favourite groups and a long-championed cause for over 20 months – at last exploring some of the potential of their foreboding line-up.

Tessa's bass locks onto Budgie's buoyant, powerful drumming like a dancing clam. You dance to The Slits and so do they. The new rhythm gives Viv room to move and she constantly busts out with sprayed-on razor-chords and licks. Ari's voice gets better all the time – she's well in control but still totally uninhibited.

Old songs like 'So Tough', and 'Shoplifting' have been re-arranged, there's much of reggae's stop-gap loping in there now, and things like 'New Town' and 'Femme Fatale' sound so good. I'm so qualms about sticking The Slits in my Tips for '79 list, for the second year running.

Sorry to say I missed the Innocents, the three girls and ex-Electric Chair Greg Van Cook, who opened the evening. But I plan to catch 'em soon.

Afterwards The Clash dressing room is besieged by fans, who are let in a few at a time. The group don't go till they've all been seen.

Oy Mick, where's that brandy bottle gone? Yes, he is pissed – "I'm going to be a drunken idiot tonight!" he'd announced earlier, after a silent ten minutes with the music papers.

As we settle down in the Greek restaurant Mr. Jones decides to dance on the table, much to the disgust of The Slits and Don Letts and Leo, who are trying to have a quiet meal in peace (!)

Later Mick and I indulge in a lengthy heart-to-heart which I can't remember a lot of (bet he can't either!) but a lot of it rang true – he is pissed off by those writers ('specially tonight by our own Mr. D. Baker, who slaughtered 'Tommy Gun' in NME – the shame! Jokes of strangulation can't hide the disappointment).

Mick describes himself as over-emotional, he's aware of faults. I'd say he was a rare, caring commodity these days. Seems like his "black cloud" has lifted tonight at last but we agree it's a weird coincidence that him, me, and several of our mates, have all felt pretty pissed off and suffered from headaches for the last month – "Perhaps they've put something in the air."

We also talk about the new album (more than adequately reviewed by "Gnatlegs" Banks in a minute). The Clash stand by it and are proud of it. I think the controversy arises because it takes longer to realise it's a great album – I keep hearing new bits! Worth waiting? Yeah. If that's how it had to be done, fine. And guess what, Mick would like Pearlman to produce the next one.

We hop back to the seaside hotel and assemble in the lounge for a nightcap (where I inadvertently find myself saddled with a four quid drinks bill).

"Where's Topper?" is the question. The answer comes when an excited tour geezer rushes in clutching an armful of clothes. "Topper and Dee (his girlfriend) went swimming and we nicked their clothes! They're on their way back now with only Dee's boots between them!"

And sure enough, within minutes, the great drummer and his young lady nonchalantly stroll through the foyer past the desk (the night porter wouldn't let 'em in at first!) absolutely naked! Drunken businessmen gawp as the unclothed pair step into the lift.

Denied further drinks and beset by the aforementioned businessmen ("Ahm a poonk in desgahse, y'knor") the group retire. Of course drinks can still be obtained so faithful Clash roadie Johnny Green and me do.

About an hour or so and several more scotches later the cliff incident takes place.

It started as a stroll along the promenade but within seconds the crazed Green was over the fence and sprinting downwards like a mountain goat. "COME ON!" he ordered and before I knew it I was in on the descent. Johnny's six foot plus build gave him a distinct advantage and there were several heart-clasping moments. 'Twas only down the bottom that I realised what I'd just done...without being given any rope (I can't decide whether to end it like that or not)!

© Kris Needs, 1978


The Clash/The Slits:
Village Bowl, Bournemouth
Kris Needs, ZigZag, December 1978
IT'S 5.30 in the morning and for some reason I'm stuck on a ledge halfway down a several hundred foot cliff overhanging Bournemouth beach...

Any further info / reviews appreciated

NME front page only
2 December 1978

NME? The Clash sack Rhodes
Page 1 ... page 2
New dates and reasons behind sacking

A Clash Of Interests
Miles, Time Out,
15 December 1978Will success spoil Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon and Joe Strummer? Miles chronicles the decline of a movement and the rise of a rock band. IT'S BEEN a long time since anybody regarded The Who as a mod band, the Beatles as exponents of Merseybeat, or Bob Dylan as a folk-rocker...

The Face 1980 -
Sort it Out Tour Perspective
Vaughan Toulouse quit the dole in PLymouth to follow the 1978 Clash Sort it Out Tour. "For a while back there in the summer of 76 I was fast lsoing hope in the future of rock n roll."

Clash Tour Dates
NME 7 October 1978 -
UNDER THE banner of “The Clash Sort It out”, the band next month begin their longest-ever British tour. It will include several Loildon dates in early December, details to be announced shortly. Meanwhile, confirmed gigs are:

Extra dates added
Melody Maker?
The Clash have extended their British Tour up to Christmas and have finalised...

Tour poster

December 15th 1978 Time Out cover story + cover image about The Clash (actually a very condensed version of a book written by Miles that was around at the time) page 1 ... page 2 ... page 3

Advert from the same Time Out for Purley & Lyceums concerts on 18/28/29 December 1978

The Inncoents
from Marguerite, lead singer

The fist date of the sort it out tour was the scottish gig. Edinburgh, i thought they played Glasgow right before that?

We missed the first gig. There was a snow storm and we drove up, we walked in just as theClash went on, but after that we did ALL the gigs. Two with out the slits, just us and the Clash, but mostly us, then the slits and then the Clash.

The tour officially started in mid Nov on a tuesday, I seem to recall that we were trying for that. So we played thirty gigs, came back played with Suzie and the Banshees at the music Machine and then did the Sid Vicious Benefit.

I don't know why you seem to be the only people who noticed us in the years since...but thanks for it.

Just to add. I didn't count all the cancelled dates, but we were often on the road waiting to hear if we would play or not...Newcastle was a mob scene...

I hope this helps, write back if you have any questions.

Best Marguerite, <clarity32[a]>

Meloday Maker front cover only

These dates have changed and reflect A Riot of Our Own, the NME and tape details.

Belfast was the first night, Dublin the day after, a day off in London before Paris. The remaining dates fit around the Belgium tape and A Riot of Our Own. Several French dates are missing after Paris

Oct 13 Belfast, University SU, Queens Hall
Johnny Green (A Riot of Our Own p106) states this was the opening of the tour. Date from NME gig review.
Oct 14 Top Hat, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin
with Berlin .. ticket ... poster
Oct 16 Le Stadium, Paris
Johnny Greens book states this was Le Palace (Le Palace is the promotion company for many French gigs). As the poster says, its the 16th October at Le Stadium.
Oct 19

Leuven (in the town parc during a beer festival)

There is a reference in Discogs of a bootleg of the concert in Leuven. I doubt it is genuine:

Oct 20 The Stokvishal, Arnhem, Holland
I went a concert of The Clash at the Stokvishal in Arnhem (Holland) on friday, October 20 1978. I don't know for sure if my agenda is completely right, but it seems right. The Stokvishal was a great place at this time, it was an old factory hall based on the, during the Arnhem battle of 1945, completely distroyed  area close to the Arhem bridge.
Other concerts I visited at that time at the Stokvishal: Iggy Pop, Cure, Only Ones, Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Specials, Madness, Theatre of Hate...
Oct 21 The Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland.
We believe this may have been the 24th (see above). The 21st. Both these last two gig are noted on p110 of A Riot of Our Own.
Oct 22 Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
some tapes have this labeled the 30th. The recording (Joe) I.D.'s the venue as Brussels but Johnny Greens book A Riot of Our Own (p109) suggests the Begium date of the 22nd was Leuven just outside Brussels. Around 1500 people at the gig. Great photos here from Philippe Carly
Oct 23

Cinema Home, Fieron (suburb of Liege)

It is said that it was the backroom of a pub in a industrial suburbs. It must have been surrealistic like Belgium.
The book said the Clash trashed and destroyed the walls between the bacsktages. About the date, the book said the band played a monday, so it must have been the 23rd. Photo below from gig. There's a book with a pic on page 88 link here

One member of the dutch punkband The Filth confirmed that they played as support act from The Clash on the 21th of october 1978 in Paradiso in Amsterdam. We thought this gig may have been the 21st. I can see at the description of the gigs at the end of october 1978 that you are not sure of the dates you mentioned are correct. The day before they played at the Stokvishal in Arnhem. The date you gave: 24th of october 1978 Paradiso is wrong! Yours Sincerly, Peter Clash fan from Holland

Johnny Greens book A Riot of Our Own (p109) suggests a Belgium gig at Leuven just outside Brussels, following a drive up from Paris. Some suggestion that this gig followed the Brussels gig. 400 people there.

Oct 25 Roxy Theatre, Harlesden, London
Postponed on the 9th September, resheduled date of September 25th postponed and also further resheduled date of 14th October postponed. New GLC restrictions limited tickets to 900, so a second night scheduled for the other 700.

Whirlwind supported. I do not know about the 26.10.78. Free t-shirts (Tommy Gun) given to audience for being messed around previously. I have two. Colin

Oct 26 Roxy Theatre, Harlesden, London
Nov 3 Bath Pavillion
see ticket
Nov 9 Village Bowl, Bournemouth cancelled? (NME 7 Oct 78)
Nov 10 Winter Gardens, Malvern cancelled?
Nov 12? Canterbury Odeon
A Riot of Our Own pg124
Nov 14 Locarno, Coventry cancelled?
Nov 15 Belle Vue, Manchester
Nov 16 Odeon, Edinburgh, Scotland
Nov 17 Town Hall, Middlesborough
Nov 18 Leeds University
supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits.
Nov 19 Top Rank, Sheffield
supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits.
Nov 20 De Montfort, Leicester
supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits.
Nov 21 Locarno, Bristol
supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits.
Nov 22 Birmingham Odeon cancelled
Nov 22 Village Bowl, Bournemouth
Nov 23 Ipswich Gaumont cancelled
Nov 23 Apollo, Manchester
Nov 24

Kings Hall, Derby

supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits. ... ticket ... ticket ... poster
Nov 26 Top Rank, Cardiff, Wales
Nov 27 University, Exeter
Nov 28 Tiffany’s, Coventry
Melody Maker lists this as the Locarno at Coventry?
On the Road with the Clash
Traxmarx - includes Tiffany's Gig
Nov 29 Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke

Subject: Re:Stoke 78-
...the guy (mark) who runs the punk vinyl stall on Leek (saturday) & Newcastle under lyme markets, is attempting to retrive his tape of stoke 78 from a mate in essex. PS don't confuse mark with the white haired prog seller also on leek market

The 29th November '78 wasn't the Stoke Mandeville concert. '78 was with the Slits, was more rock, less anarchic, better musically, but I was a bit disappointed all the same (that isn't to say it was a bad concert, but compared to the first..). We weren't allowed backstage after the concert. Joe insisted that everyone got in for £2,25 whether they were advance sales or not, threatening not to play otherwise. (1)

the gig line up was the clash slits and the innocents, viv and the rest of the slits came into the crowd to watch the clash autographs were given, when the clash arrived for the sound check, they also signed loads of stuff for the group of fans at the back door, which included me 14 years old and a clash fan then (2 nacro_killer)

"During the drum intro for Tommy Gun, Topper hit himself in the eye with a drumstick, so joe shouted "tommy gun!, with one eye!" (Tim)

I was at the same gig, had an amazing night, fist of all Topper was playing so maically his drum stick snapped in half and I managed to get the top half that flew off...and then after the gig me and my mates managed to get in the dressing room, sitting on the floor with the band talking, they all signed my Sort It Out Tour poster, unbelievable! (Shaun)Howdy

Excellent site - been checking you out for a few years now. Couple of bits of trivia regarding punter comments on 29/11/78 Hanley Victoria Hall.

Fans were allowed backstage at this gig - eventually. The reason for the delay was a scene being filmed for Rude Boy. The bit near the end where Mick lambasts Ray for is Racist quips. Clearly seen behind Mick is some graffiti stating "Stoke Punks rule" or similar. Caroline Coon was floating about looking impossibly glamourous to a very impressionable 14 year old. Another very brief scene was shot and appears in rude Boy - the trashed dressing room (done previously by the Jam) where Joe is tuning his Tele. Bruno Brooks later interviewed Topper and Paul which was broadcast on the Sunday following the gig and later issued unedited as a pic disc (featuring a later pic of Joe with mohican!!!)

I'd love to get in touch with the previous commenter 'nacro-killer' as I used to work for NACRO in the eighties and possibly know the individual. Do you have a forum? Rob Wild <rob.wild1[a]>

Nov 30 Wirrina Stadium, Peterborough
Dec 2 Polytechnic, Newcastle
last night of the tour according to A Riot of Our Own pg 125 and it definately took place. It is listed on adverts in the music press as a late date for the Tour.
Dec 4 University Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
cancelled due to student only policy which Joe found out about and objected too. A Riot of Our Own pg123
Dec 5 University Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
cancelled due to student only policy which Joe found out about and objected too
Dec 6

Liverpool University Guild of Students (Mountford Hall & Stanley Theatre), Liverpool,

You've a gig listed on the Sort It Out Tour at Liverpool University on 6/12/78 which Iím not sure ever took place.

?????? Brighton Top Rank
I saw the Clash at the Brighton top Rank in '78 or possibly the first half of '79, can't see it listed anywhere, anyone else remember it? It was well before London Calling, they opened with English Civil War, I remember it cos Topper let me and some other kids in the side door as you were sposed to be 21 to get in and the bouncers weren't having any of it! I was 16 at the time I'm pretty sure, still at school anyway and i left in '79. I'd love to know the date of the gig.
Dec 10 Liverpool Erics

Erics published a book with a flyer advertising the Clash on 10 December.

As the Clash had cancelled a gig at Glasgow Uni on 5/12/78 due to the student only door policy , perhaps they also binned the Liverpool Uni gig and switched it to Ericís on the 10/12/78 ?

Dec 12 Pavillion Bath
This gig definately took place. Thx for info. Poster
Dec 17 Portsmouth Locarno
Dec 18 Tiffany’s, Purley
[originally anounced as Purley Locarno] supported by the Slits - snowed heavily. A large cheesy nightclub in South London. Supported by the Innocents as well as by the Slits.
Dec 19 Music Machine, London
...Sid Vicious Defence Fund benefit. Also supported by Phil Rambow and Friends.
Dec 20 Civic Hall Wolverhampton?
Dec 21 Hastings Pier Pavillion
Dec 22 Friars, Aylesbury
On the Road with the Clash
Traxmarx - includes Friars Xmas Party featuring The Clash
Dec 28 Lyceum, London
Dec 29 Lyceum, London
Jan 3 Lyceum, London
This gig may have been the 31 December?
On the Road with the Clash
Traxmarx - includes this Lyceum gig