The Clash Take the Fifth Tour
Supported by The Undertones & David Johansen

updated 5 Jan 2010 - added ticket

source - low gen - Sound 3.0 - 71min - tracks 21
distant but listenable

The opening night of the “Take the Fifth”

The opening night of the “Take the Fifth” 2nd US Tour. Fifth as in Amendment but from Boston onwards it was literally true; with Mickey Gallagher playing keyboards. The Tour would build on the low key success of the earlier Pearl Harbour tour and despite mixed audience and US media responses Johnny Green wrote it was the tour when it felt like The Clash were really starting to take off.

Cartoonist Ray Lowry along for the ride wrote the tour proved that “Americans do care about rock’n’roll rather than rock music; if The Clash packed it in tomorrow we’d lose the sole living evidence that rock’n’roll aspires to be anything more than blind escapism”.

under new management

The Clash had ended their period of self-management by allowing Blackhill (Jenner & King) to attempt to manage them on a trial basis.

Blackhill Enterprises were a rock music management company, founded as a partnership by the four original members of Pink Floyd, with Peter Jenner and Andrew King .

After Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, the partnership was dissolved, and Jenner and King continued Blackhill to manage Barrett. They also managed: Marc Bolan, Roy Harper

The split was partly a result of the influence of Kosmo Vinyl, a significant figure from here on in The Clash story. Kosmo had been friends with the band for sometime but would now become a cross between official PR manager and court jester. Kosmo had been responsible for ensuring the UK music press sent Clash friendly representatives; Paul Morley for the NME, Pete Silverton for Sounds and Joe’s old friend Allan Jones for the Melody Maker.

Before And After Pennie Smith

Photographer Pennie Smith, sent by the NME for the whole tour, has provided the best photographic document of this tour. Visually The Clash now had a 50’s rocker look, mostly black clothes and greased back hair, or as Lowry put it as “the bastard offspring of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and a Harley Davidson”. The backdrop of flags though did remain after Mick had vetoed Paul’s commissioned B52 bomber backdrop as pro militaristic.

New Music

Musically too the band had moved on as Joe explained to a journalist at St Paul “Those old songs are great, and we still do them but we have moved on”. The Clash continuing their love/hate relationship with the USA would choose support acts (apart from the opening Undertones) to reflect their love of US rock’n’roll and soul history; Sam & Dave, Bo Diddley, Screaming Jay Hawkins (Sam Cooke’s chain gang was the intro music on part of the tour). Commercially this was brave, a “new wave” line up was Epic’s choice but The Clash saw it as pay back time.

Problems with Epic in bank rolling the tour continued with The Clash threatening to fly back home on several occasions. Promotion by Epic was minimal so Kosmo got The Clash onto as many local radio stations for interviews as possible.

St Paul Civic Center

The St Paul Civic Center was typical of the venues booked by the William Morris Agency for this tour, averaging 2,500 to 5,000 seated venues, reflecting The Clash’s rising popularity in the US. But seated large halls were not the best place for The Clash to deliver their high octane rock’n’roll and this would be a continued source of frustration particularly to Joe, throughout the tour. The Civic Center was a huge concrete barn with an artificial sliding floor for use also as an ice rink (see pic) The only thing going for it was that Mick’s mother Renee along for the show had seen Elvis here.

A very good low generation recording circulates.

It has some stereo separation suggesting a soundboard source but is almost definitely a pro-equipment audience recording as individual voices around the taper can be heard throughout and the vocals lack the “in the face” feel of a soundboard source.

Either way its one of the best recordings from the tour all the instruments are clear and sharp. The main flaws are the range of sound and the guitars pushed back in the mix, losing a lot of the punch and attack, not helped by Mick’s guitar sound which through most of the tour had differing phased sound effects added. A definite mistake with his guitar work lacking edge and impact a result no doubt of Mick’s muso tendencies.

The sound problems may have resulted from (as Johnny Green witnessed) the soundman with hair to waist, wearing unplugged headphones to drown out the noise!

Paul Morley reviewed the gig as a “split around the edges, breaking amps, angry at everything & nothing show” The Minneapolis Star described it as “hardly transcendental”. Joe was reported to have bit Paul in frustration!

The recording reveals though a band working hard to get the same type of reaction they were used to in Britain or at the smaller halls on the Pearl Harbour tour. As a result Joe tries too hard, his frustration affecting his performance with the result that a number of the performances are workmanlike rather than inspired. However from Clash City Rockers onwards things click and the performances are highly charged and impressive.

Joe first addresses the audience before London Calling somewhat ambivalently “ I’d just like to say that we’re very surprised that you want to come and see us, seeing as so many in the mid-West.. I don’t mean to come here and knock you all but when I get to the hotel, turn on the radio, get bored, twiddle away and all I hear is the Eagles or Steely Dan, so I turn into Country & Western..” London Calling here is more together than at Monterey, retaining the “time to be tough, the midnight shutdown” lines over the recorded versions “phoney beatlemania” lines.

The Prisoner follows, a definite highlight and rare outing for this song. Tension between Joe and Mick is evident; Joe “Alright smart arse”, Mick “Shorty, lighten up!” White Man hits a groove at the end but before the first live Koka Kola. Joe barks in frustration “Its no good, its just a pile of shit” Koka Kola is brilliantly segued into I Fought The Law (as it would continue to do) with Topper’s drum rolls coming in just after Joe shouts “Hit the deck”. Joe then appeals to the audience “now listen you guys it ain’t getting any better, lets have a bit of encouragement, you gotta say fuck off you limeys, give it some stick you cunts!”

The audience response improves to Jail Guitar Doors. Joe introduces the first live Clampdown; “maybe getting a little better now, now here’s the acid test, taking off his turban they said is this man a jew”. This inspired lyric about racial intolerance goes over the head of at least one in the audience, a woman shouts “Fuck you” clearly misunderstanding Joe’s words as anti-Semitic! Clampdown, a future highlight of Clash performances is still in transition here, with Joe singing all the lyrics and the song petering out after getting into a great groove. The song was so new a live ending had not yet been worked out!

As noted things really pick up from Clash City Rockers onwards. Armagideon Time the first song of the encore was the highlight of these shows; the lights were dimmed, drum and bass starts up and then Joe appears to great effect from behind the drum riser lit only by the candelabra held in his hand, “We have this here to remind us..a lot of people won’t get any justice tonight”. Armagideon Time is now much extended from its Monterey performance and is developing into another Clash live classic. A short gap and the pace dramatically changes as Career Opportunities blasts out. Jimmy Jazz gets its live debut sounding impressive an almost fully realised. Following White Riot, Mick says “great start”, Joe’s given his Casey Jones hat (another in a long line of dodgy Strummer head gear!) and the audience sound fairly appreciative. A good performance, quality sound and fascinating show.


I'm So Bored with the USA
Complete Control
London Calling
The Prisoner
White Man in Ham Palais
Koka Kola
I Fought the Law
Jail Guitar
Police and Thieves
Stay Free
Safe European Home
Clash City Rockers
Capital Radio
Janie Jones
What's My Name
Armagideon Time
Career Opportunities
Jimmy Jazz
White Riot

A Riot of our Own pg190

Sounds gig review

The Clash Turn Pro (Sort of )
Sounds Tour Report
(St Paul & Chicago mainly)
Peter Silverton, Sounds,
29 September 1979
TUESDAY LUNCHTIME: Cleveland Airport. With a couple of hours to kill before my one-stop-only flight to Minneapolis and the first date on the Clash’s second American Tour...

The Last Gang in The West Leaves Town
NME 13 & 20 Oct Paul Morley
Paul Morley of the NME travels on the tour bus from Detroit on the 17th through to New York on the 21st interviewing and following the band.
DETAILS: The Scene. The Clash on tour of America. There's a glamorous image, with a confident, crusading edge to it. The Clash: a lot of hope and responsibility there. America: it still means a lot. Clash's current six week coast to coast tip to toe tour of the United States Of America is their first major assault

Clash USA 79 - Ray Lowry
The shape I'm In
NME - 6 Oct 1979
Ray Lowry Clash Take the 5th Tour Notes Pt1

Clash USA 79 - Ray Lowry
Brother Creepers Over America or Suedes over the States
NME - 13 Oct 1979
Ray Lowry Clash Take the 5th Tour Notes Pt2

Clash USA 79 - Ray Lowry
Have you heard the news, theres good rocking ronight
NME - 20 Oct 1979
Ray Lowry Clash Take the 5th Tour Notes Pt3

Clash Extension
Unknown / Tour News
15 August 79
The Clash who started a lengthy American Tour last week are due to tour Britain in November to tie in with the release of their new album. Tha band's American Tour, which included the Monterey Festival last week

Jenny Lens
Clash Photographer 1979-1981
I shot the Clash from February 1979 to June 1980. I didn’t bring my camera to the Sausalito Swap Meet, February 3, and ran into them and Johnny Green. I said hello, but too shy to tell them who I was or inquire about photo passes. Their debut California gigs were discussed in San Francisco at the Ramada Inn press conference

The Clash Play Revolution Rock
Chris Salewicz, Trouser Press, March 1980
IT'S FOUR days before Christmas. A dark, early evening damp with snow and rain. Immediately south of the Thames, in the inappropriately genteel Victorians... end of Tour chaos in LA.

Melody Maker front cover only
29 December 1979
Strummer on the Rebound

Sep 8 Monterey CA, USA...Tribal Stomp festival
Sep 12 Civic Centre, Saint Paul MN, USA
Sep 14 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago IL, USA
Sep 17 Masonic Temple, Detroit MI, USA
Sep 18 Cleveland, USA
A Riot of Our Own dates this gig pg194. However local fans believe Cleveland show never happened, the book reference notwithstanding.  "I was 18 at the time and very tuned in to the music scene in the area.  I missed the Agora show because I wasn't 18 at the time.  In September I was and there is no way I would have missed that.  I lived in Akron, OH, a one hour drive.  I have checked all local newspapers and muic papers and there is no announcement of that show nor any review. Ray Sferra"
Sep 19 Orpheum Theater, Boston MA, USA
FYI, Clash played the Orpheum Boston twice during the Take the 5th tour.I believe it was Sept. 19 & 20, and the NY shows were later. I was at all four but I can't remember the date breakdown Good site. Paul Sherman??
Sep 20 Palladium, New York NY, USA
Sep 21 Palladium, New York NY, USA
...famous photo of Paul from the London Calling sleeve taken on this night
Sep 22 Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia PA, USA
Sep 25 St Denis Theatre, Montreal, Canada
Sep 26 O’Keefe Centre, Toronto, Canada
Sep 28 Clark University, Worcester MA, USA
I missed them for both the 1st two Boston shows (Harvard Sq. Theatre and the Orpheum) but then I heard thru the grapevine that they were playing at Clark University on 9/28/79.  So we drove down and got in line.  Original scheduled to be in the field house, the promoters (I think it was a student organization) sold almost no advance tickets, and moved it to a smaller auditorium the day of the show.  Then 100s of punks from Boston showed up and bought tickets, and they kept selling tickets.  Terribly overcrowded, fire department came and made a few hundred leave the hall, but as soon as they left, Strummer says "There's a buncha fans out there that paid to see us, and they're stuck outside, but if everybody stays cool, and don't push, we can let them inside."  The Heart breakers opened. That show changed my life.  Cliche but true.  Anyway, I still have the ticket stub.  Rick
Sep 29 Ritchie Colisseum, College Park MD, USA
Oct 2 The Agora, Atlanta GA, USA
Oct 4 Armadillo Club, Austin TX, USA
referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own p206 and also by Ray Lowry on page 73 of Mojo (UK Music Mag) No.9 Aug 94 where he says the heat was scorching... see also [Joe Elys acordian player]

Joe; Back to London in 1979 for another tour. The Clash come to the show (Ely's) at the Venue Theater and invited the (Ely's) band to come to studio where they are recording London Calling. Became friends and (the Clash) showed the Lubbock boys around the London scene. The Clash come to America later in 1979. The two bands play several shows together including Houston, Dallas, Laredo, LA and the Monterey Pop Festival. Joe invites them to come to Lubbock to do a show together. They stay for several days mesmerized by the dusty home of Buddy Holly and the strange cowboy culture. In return the Clash invite Joe the following year to come to London for their London Calling Tour.

Oct 5 Cullen Auditorium, Houston TX, USA
dates from [Joe Elys acordian player]. also referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own p206
Oct 6 Palladium, Dallas, USA
this is often dated as the 6th and it may have been, but in order to fit the sequence of events in Greens book, A Riot of Our Own it would have to be before that, maybe the 4th.
Oct 7
Rocks Club [The Rox], Lubbock TX, USA
referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own, p207, where the band went to play a unofficial gig for Joe Ely (support) in his own town of Lubbock. Green says the band took a couple of days off after flying to LA. dates from [Joe Elys acordian player].
Oct 8? Laredo Texas
Oct 10 San Diego, California, USA
referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own p 208
Oct 11 Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles CA, USA
Oct 13 Kezar Pavilion, San Francisco CA, USA
Oct 15 Seattle
referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own p211
... ticket ... photo from gig

"I just stumbled on this site while doing a google ‘egoist’ search. Great site. I wish I could find my taped interview with Joe. That was a story in itself. I must’ve woke up Cosmo at every stop from Cleveland to Denver where he finally put me through to Joe to do a pre-concert interview. You should try and get that from the Oregon Daily Emerald…or I could look in my files. If I recall Joe was getting ready for the Denver show…he was testy and abrupt…and loosened up later. My interview style was not to go by set questions…but to have question points and just talk. I remember asking about recording at Olympic Studios, which was being talked about…and joked that this was supposed to be The Rolling Stones favorite room. No laughter from Joe on that. And it was pouring down rain, with thunder in Denver and it made Joe in bad mood. I casually told him to put that mood into the show. But this was cool. Wish I was a better writer back then.
The photos are by Mark Pynes, now the photo editor of the Harrisburg, Pa. newspaper. Wish I could find the interview tape…I think my ex-wife stole it. Cheers, Cort Fernald"

Oct 16 Pacific National Exhibition Vancover, Canada
referenced in Johnny Greens Book, A Riot of Our Own p213 as the last night of the tour.