Pearl Harbour Tour supported by Bo Diddley & The Cramps

Also, Harley from the Stimulators was at the NY show but they didn't play. (Scratchy)

updated 7 July 2008 - added punters view (Joe Burdette)
Updated 28 Dec 2008 - added new venue info and photos

© Allan Tannenbaum

cdr - unknown gen - Sound 2.5 - 69min - Unknown Gen? - 21 tracks

The Clash in New York

A highly significant concert in the history of The Clash, particularly in terms of breaking the band in the USA. There was a buzz about the band in the US before the Pearl Harbour Tour but here at the Palladium were the key players in US rock journalism (not to mention the New York glitterati of De Niro, Andy Warhol, Springsteen ,Paul Simon). The band were fully aware this was the big one that could really break the band in the States, and they did not fail putting in a superb charged but professional performance.

a night of nights - Strummer

Strummer remembers it now, still as one of the greatest and most significant Clash concerts, “a night of nights”. Joe had said, “Rock’n’roll changed the way I look at society” The Clash were attempting to make the US do the same. They had come to the USA, not to bury rock’n’roll but to reclaim and re-energise it.

They won important converts to their cause at this concert. Journalists previously sympathetic were now bowled over: the now legendary Lester Bangs declared it one of the best concerts he’d seen in his life; “They launched into I’m So Bored With The USA with a surge of energy that surpassed any band we’d ever seen and just built and built, leaving us all drained and ecstatic”. Tom Carson in Rolling Stone wrote, “The Clash unleashed one of the most staggering performances I’ve ever seen. It was music of heroic grandeur, epic sweep and visceral force; each song was faster and meaner than on record and had twice the impact”

© Allan Tannenbaum

The equally influential Robert Christgau, wrote the Palladium crowd was on its feet before a single note was played and 2 hours later were still on their feet. Christgau eloquently described the visual and aural impact of The Clash; Mick and Paul leapt around as if no stage could hold them, Topper’s drums cracked through the music with the authority of machine gun fire, Mick’s ethereal, incantatory back up vocals filled the gaps in Joe’s harsh leads. “Strummer his eyes alight and staring as he snarled and screamed his message, looked like a man who’d just seen everything he loved destroyed, unsure whether to explode with rage or run for his life. His extraordinarily expressive face conveyed as much wit as passion.”


The 3,800 seater Palladium on New York’s 14th Street was an old converted theatre, as ornate as London’s Lyceum but sleazier with drug pushers plying their trade outside. Thanks to Sukwoon Noh (it was his first Clash gig) for providing the following recollections of the Palladium;

You can see the ol Palladium inscription in the left photo above the montage on the facia.

"In the 70's and 80's the Palladium was THE place in NYC. That's where all the great new wave bands played. I saw the Jam, Joe Jackson, Ramones, David Johansen and few others. It was essentially a movie theater converted into a concert hall.

Main floor and the second level called the loge. It has since been demolished and in place stands a high-rise. The street level is now an electronic store called 'PC Richards' and the upper levels belong to NY University's dormitory. Only 1 block away from the Irving Plaza [where Joe played with Meskies in 99 & 2001]"

not at all bad audience recording

Thankfully a recording circulates of the concert and it’s a not at all bad audience recording. All instruments are clear, though there is some over amplification and the sound is toward the top end. Most of Toppers drum kit can be made out and Paul’s bass is clear if low.

Its main problem is that the taper was well back in the Palladium making the vocals in particular sound distant. There is also some noise but the atmosphere is captured quite well.

Its an enjoyable listen and conveys the brilliance of the performance, Joe’s vocals snarl and rage and Mick is excellent playing a brand new guitar, having broken the neck off his Les Paul in Washington.

The band were very nervous and Mick starts the gig with a determined “OK Strummer, lets go!” before blasting into Bored With The USA. Bass distortion in the right channel affects the first half of this song and then cuts out for the rest of the recording.

Mick introduces Hate & War topically with “this is an old one from the last record, and seeing China have just invaded Vietnam, we’re back in it”. In a snap shot which reveals The Clash’s determination to break the States Joe says “ this guy in the white t-shirt says it sounds alright, how about you people in the $27 seats?” but before Joe can say anything scathing about the celebrities and the rich in the Circle, Mick jumps in with a calming “I saw Bruce Springsteen up there and he wasn’t half bad”. Joe pauses, says OK and the band play White Man. No Lennon “rattle your jewellery” lines ala the Royal Command Performance here!

© Allan Tannenbaum

Indeed there are no “political” comments from Joe to stir the waters, which did not stop Andy Warhol stating, “The Clash are cute but they all have bad teeth and scream about getting rid of the rich!”

Mick intro’s Stay Free with “its time for the wimpoid ballad, I don’t know if you’ll fuckin’ understand this, oh yeah you will, its about a geezer in nick and their mates waiting for them” but then goes on to deny it by delivering a particularly impassioned performance. Police & Thieves and Capital Radio are the highlights of a set full of highlights. The dub echo intro of the former swirls around the Palladium dramatically and Joe bemoans the state of New York radio on the latter.

The crowd roar the band back for 2 encores and still cheer for more.
© Allan Tannenbaum

"3000 of us waited for the Clash to take the stage. It was their first performance in America and many of us wondered whether these punkers from England could deliver the goods, many had their doubts. The lights came down. Beams of light started searching the stage, like prison spotlights. Suddenly a huge roar, a machinegun-like volley of raw guitars and drums. The Clash tear into 'I'm So Bored With The U.S.A.' The power and glory of rock and roll had never sounded so urgent and furious. Joe Strummer leaned into the mike like he was about to rip it from the stand with his teeth. His voice, a cry, a scream, a call to arms, a liberating burst of human anger and rock and roll voodoo. The Clash were the sound and fury of a new generation of rockers ready to riot and ride out on strings of steel and thundering drums. This was more than music, this was the human heart, the gut, the soul, electrified, amplified, bonafide!

© Allan Tannenbaum

Read your story about The Clash / Bo Diddley / The Cramps at the Palladium in 1979. I was there and it was a great show.

The crowd booed Bo Diddley and Joe Strummer came out mad and gave them a talking to, it was one of the best things I ever saw. I always liked their music, but when he did that, I really had respect for Joe Strummer. Thanks. Joe Burdette


I'm So Bored with the USA
Guns On the Roof
Jail Guitar Doors
Tommy Gun
City Of the Dead
Hate and War
Clash City Rockers
White Man In Ham Palais
Safe European Home
English Civil War
Stay Free
Police and Thieves
Capital Radio
Janie Jones
Julie's / Drug Squad
Complete Control
London's Burning
White Riot
What's My Name
Career Opportunities

A Riot of Our Own pg146

Clash City Talkers:
New York Meets Jones And Co.
Ira Robbins, Trouser Press, June 1979
There's nothing quite as frustrating to watch as the hypocrisy of press, radio, and record companies rushing to get behind some new band that has successfully survived their initial indifference and become some sort of hot property.

Unknown review

Sounds review 10 March NYC gig

Rolling Stone Review

New York Rocker Gig Review

Trouser Press gig review / interview

4 excellent photos
Ebet Roberts -

Best Magazine [French]
...page1 ...page2 ...page3 ...page4 ...page5 ...page6
Rough English Translation

Refused Visas

Q Magazine UK May 2001
Comments from the band and others on the Pearl Harbour Tour february 1979

Melody Maker
Tour Review

A3 Billboard Ad for the Tour

Melody Maker front page only
The Riot Squad
Allan Jones follows the Clash across America

Gary Bushells Tour Notes

Dolly Parton Impersonators

Sylvia Simmonds Tour Notes

Village Voice
Tour Notes

Strummer's Pearl Harbour Diary

Trouser Press
End of Tour Interview

Los Angeles Times January 20, 1979
Clash Crests on New Punk Wave

Time Magazine
5 March 1979

Jenny Lens (clash photographer)
Photos and Exhibition

Any further info / reviews appreciated

A3 ad (from poster) placed on page 105 of Billboard 3 March 1979

Jan 31 Commodore Ballroom, Vancover, Canada
Feb 7 Berkely Community Centre California
Feb 8 Geary Temple (Fillmore), San Francisco CA
Feb 9 Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica CA
Feb 13 Agora, Cleveland OH
Feb 15 Ontario Theatre, Washington DC
Feb 16 Harvard Square Theater, Cambridge MA
Feb 17 Palladium, New York NY
Feb 20 The Rex Danforth Theatre, Toronto, Canada
We were going to drive to Toronto from New York, but we were snowed in and except for the back-line vehicle, the rest of us flew direct to Cananda. Scratchy