16 Tons Tour
Supported by Mikey Dread, Joe Ely by Blast Furnaces Revenge

cdr - audience average - unknown gen – 2 sound –
89mins – 26 tracks

Essential Clash DVD – 8 mins – 5 sound –
Clampdown & Train In Vain

From Here to Eternity - 8mins – 5 sound –
Capital Radio & Armagideon Time

From Here To Eternity II’ cdr – 7 mins – 5 sound –
Jimmy Jazz & English Civil War

Two sources

On this famous night in Clash history, two radically different sets of sound recorders were present in the Lewisham Odeon to preserve an outstanding performance.

One set were a professional mobile sound team employed by CBS, and augmented by Don Letts filming at least part of the show for a Train In Vain promo.

The second were two young lads audacious enough to smuggle in their primitive tape recorder. Although the difference in the end results in terms of sound quality are vast it’s clear which set were enjoying it the most!

The writer....

This writer was also present that night, dragging along 3 mates who were ‘unconverted’ to The Clash at the time (by the end 2 out of 3 duly saw the light!). Our excitement intensified as we made our way up Lewisham High Street to see the banner outside the Odeon inscribed with the magic words; ‘Straight Music presents The Clash’.

The Odeon seemed huge in side and was all seated. Although Joe ensured we could all get nearer the stage after a few songs, the seating and the venue in general did not make for a great, sweaty atmosphere. Certainly later shows at the seat less Lyceum and Brixton for example are burned much more on my memory.

Seat-less venues

We do know The Clash were having difficulty on this tour booking seat less venues in London but why the Lewisham Odeon rather than more nights at the Lyceum Ballroom (which they’d played only 2 days earlier) is a mystery. Presumably the Lyceum was not available for later nights.

The ‘official’ tour programme Armagideon Times 1 & 2 were on sale inside the Odeon, containing a band written history, cartoons and comments on the London Calling songs and Pennie Smith photos.

Late start

I would have to agree also to some extent with the person who wrote to the Melody Maker (link) to complain about The Clash not hitting the stage until 10-30 with the result that by the end of the encores British Rail’s last trains were long gone!

It certainly was a long wait for the band too; The Clash’s laudable desire to give good value for money with 3 support acts certainly tested our patience! A enjoyable rockabilly band, Whirlwind as I remember kicked off, followed by 2 sets from Mikey Dread in between Joe Ely’s. I don’t remember any violent disapproval to Mikey as the letter writer states.

I do remember clearly though turning around in the crush at the front during Complete Control and being astonished that many people at the back and in the Circle were mildly swaying to the music and not going ape shit like me. Similar totally baffled thoughts like that always occurred at Clash gigs, how could anyone in the hall (let alone the rest of the world!) not respond like me to the sound and energy of The Clash live!

Record Mirror

To prove the point Chris Westwood in Record Mirror (link) filed a typical of the music press at the time review of the gig that damned the band with faint praise. He starts of with saying that London Calling “doesn’t really sound that spectacular” I wonder if he would still give that opinion today!

He does come up with an amusing if not baffling description of Joe as an “anarchistic Len Fairclough” What connection Joe had with the Coronation Street soap character is anyone’s guess, but no doubt the comparison would have amused him at the time! Even Westwood had to acknowledge the “near-awesome” performance of Capital Radio.

The Venue

The Lewisham Odeon in South London has since been demolished. The Bankrobber video promo has clips from the gig plus Baker and Johnny running up Lewisham High Street, outside the Odeon and inside at the ticket office.


Pro source

All the pro-quality songs so far officially released are in superb sound including the two songs on Essential Clash DVD (a major upgrade on the old Singles Video Collection). Almost as perfect are the two songs that have ‘escaped’ onto the recently circulated ‘From Here To Eternity II’ cdr.

Audience Source

The audience tape is almost complete (cutting off halfway through London’s Burning) but is of poor quality. It includes the only circulating UK performance of Joe Ely on Fingernails. It has been eq'd to give more top end and bass. Its not bad at low dB but distortion quickly affects the recording otherwise. The tape also suffers some slight wear, maybe through a poor copy and from Protex Blue through to Wrong ‘Em Boyo is very poor.

Although a distant sound there is some clarity, with organ and drums quite good. Bass is there but unfocussed, and guitars OK but distant. Vocals come through well enough to hear Joe’s between song comments but generally not his adlibs in songs.

It’s good enough to appreciate the quality of the performance and the audience singing and comments of the two young tapers adds to its charm. Until and if Sony ever release the whole show it’s a poor but worthwhile alternative.

Whether a result of a day’s rest from their draining touring schedule or the presence of a recording mobile and film crew or just one of those nights when it all falls into place, the result is clear from the available recordings, The Clash hit peak form at Lewisham Odeon. The performances of the 6 songs available from the professional mobile recording are all amongst the best ever performances of those songs.

The band plays the usual set but the performances are nearly all inspired. Before Safe European Home Joe says “OK I understand you want to move down the front a little bit [cheers] No need to lose our heads alright, no need for any aggro or nothing, where’s Ray [Jordan, Clash security] [shouts of get on with it] people are saying [I’m a] fuck’in old woman but I’ve seen people with their heads caved in, lets be careful, wanna do it with a lack of blood shed, understand!”

The crowd clap along to an excellent Jimmy Jazz (on FHTEII). The band now joined by “Mr Gluggo Gallagher”. Joe mid song launches into a great improv relating his recent drug bust on Feb 10th at Queens Hotel, Southsea. The fact Joe was reading the bible tickled the tabloid The Sun to write their wild punk rocker found reading the holy bible story.

Joe goes “Yeah yeah that hi hats so cool! OK I don’t wanna go on all night and bore you about tales of these things, but there’s certain things that must be told, so let’s have a bit of peace and quiet.. I was sitting in my hotel room reading the Holy Bible, using a bit of quarter pound of Ishen, when there’s a knock on the door, so I said yes, come in, come in. He said hey what’s that sniff in the air …clear out.”

FHTE II continues into the first 30 secs of London Calling then cuts off. The sound on the audience tape now worsens, at times very badly. Train In Vain needs no introduction and White Man that follows has an extended ending with adlibs and Mickey’s organ to the fore.

Capital Radio edits after Joe says, “I don’t wanna do this..” so we lose the rest of its introduction. Joe and Mick had both said they were bored with singing certain songs at this point, but the Capital Radio well known from FHTE hardly shows any sign of disinterest from the band. To these ears it’s the best cut on the album. The Clash at their finest.

Joe introduces Stay Free for a change and then it’s the highlight of the Essential Clash DVD, the superb performance of Clampdown. The quality of the sound now allows all Joe’s ad libs to be heard including “dragging round the dirty town, sniffing up the match sticks left by all the cool hip guys!”

It runs straight into Police & Thieves with Topper beating out a steady intro and Joe shouting improvs over the top with heavy echo, before the song kicks in. It another highlight. The energy levels build further as its straight into Janie Jones and a great Complete Control bringing the set to a climax. The tapers sing along and only Mickey’s organ sounds out of place; his organ complemented most Clash songs but not the short fast 77 ones.

Into the first encore “For this next selection like to bring out Mickey Dread to lend a hand,..Gluggo” as the organ intros the great performance included on FHTE. It segues into English Civil War included on FHTE II cdr. It’s the best sounding source for this arrangement of the song which builds from bass drum, to bass line, guitar fills then Joe’s scratchy rhythmn before the band kick in. A further highlight. A fine Garageland ends the encore on a further high living the audience shouting for more.

Second encore begins with Joe Ely singing his song Fingernails; Joe intro’s him “Like to do next selection with an amplifier from Texas!.. Mr Joe Ely” Fingernails is an enjoyable if unremarkable standard rock’n’roll song. Shouts continue for White Riot but London crowds will have to wait till 82 for that one! Instead Mikey returns to sing with Joe on Bankrobber and Rockers Galore. Joe then shouts “Topper Headon!” and Tommy Gun crashes in. It’s a fired up performance that leads into the final song, London’s Burning.

The recording ends abruptly mid song just like the 16 Tons UK Tour. Topper would get his thumb stabbed with scissors after a drugs altercation soon after the gig resulting in the rest of the tour being rescheduled for June and throwing the US tour into jeopardy.

After London's Burning at around midnight(!) the audience kept calling for another encore. The Clash eventually came back on, Strummer said "There's only one more song we can do............" and the band launched into White Riot.

By this time my last train had long gone, leaving no other choice than a very crowded night bus to Charing Cross, and arrival back home about 5am

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Clash City Rockers
Brand New Cadilac
Safe European Home
Jimmy Jazz
Protex Blue
London Calling
Guns of Brixton
Train In Vain
White Man in Hamm Palais
Koka Kola
I Fought the Law
Spanish Bombs
Wrong `Em Boyo
Capital Radio
StayFree
Clampdown
Police & Thieves
Janie Jones
Complete Control
Armagdeon Time
English Civil War
Garageland
Fingernails
Bankrobber
Tommy Gun
Londons Burning
*White Riot missing

bold indicates on video

* not on the tape

Chris Westwood
Record Mirror gig review

Record Mirror Mailbag
Star Letter

Any further info / reviews
appreciated

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... Los Angeles Feb79, Boston Radio 19Sept79, Acklam Hall 28Dec79, Tiswas80, Cuba Tour

BEST n141, April 80
HEAVYWEIGHT - An interview with Mick Jones.
Birmingham Top Rank, Coventry Tiffanys & the Electric Ballroom.
So it was just fabulous. More than the Clash we had some crusty bonuses that justify my job 'cause I'm telling you. [rough french to english text version]

Best Magazine [French] n141, April 80
HEAVYWEIGHT - An interview with Mick Jones.
Birmingham Top Rank, Coventry Tiffanys & the Electric Ballroom.
scans ...page1 ...page2 ...page3 ...page4 ...page5 ...page6

Best Magazine n.143
French Advert for French dates May

NME
Clash dates

Clash dates announced

Toots Quits the Tour

Melody Maker
review 26 Jan

Strummer Busted Feb 10

Clash Tour Hit Again -
dates resheduled

The Observer - 27 April 1980
Joe Interv on 16 Tons Tour

The Sun 11 February 1980
Drug bust, Joe reading the Bible

Whats On Guide - London
22 February - Tour overview
cover - page 1 - page 2

...16 Tons and what do I get / Another day older and deeper in debt... (Tennessee Ernie Ford)
Jan 5 Friars, Aylesbury
Jan 6 Odeon, Canterbury
Supported by ? and Tradition.

Canterbury Odeon Jan 6th was suported by the purple hipsters and a local band that included a chap from camel ..or caravan ...cant quite remember. Is there a recording of this night ?? i went home deaf - sadman1[a]tiscali.co.uk

Jan 8 Top Rank, Brighton
Supported by Gillinski Bros and Prince Hammer and the Creation Rebels.
Jan 9 Top Rank, Brighton
Supported by Gillinski Bros and Prince Hammer and the Creation Rebels.
Jan 11 Leisure Centre, Crawley
Supported by the Escalators and Prince Hammer.
Jan 12 Pavilion, Hastings
Jan 13 Locarno, Bristol

was this gig may have been postponed to the 10th June. 2nd punter says it definatley went ahead on this date. Anon1

theBristol Locarno gig on 13thJan 1980. If my memory serves correctly I'm fairly sure that this gig was cancelled. My recollection is that I wanted to go but didn't get a ticket because I feared not gaining entry as the venue wasover 18's only and I was a very young looking 16 @ the time and had previously experienced difficulty gaining entry at the same venue. Ican recall being delighted when the gig was re shedulded for the Colston Hall as there wereno age restrictions there.

Tony Griffiths <tony_griffiths(at]btinternet.com>

Bristol Fanzine Story So Far (printed summer 1980)
Page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4

Jan 14 Gaumont, Ipswich
now The Regent
Jan 16 De Montford, Leicester
Jan 18 Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Jan 19 Odeon, Edinburgh, Scotland
Jan 20 Odeon, Edinburgh, Scotland
Jan 21 Apollo, Glasgow, Scotland
support Jan 21 & 22nd were Glasgow band "First  Priority". One of thier members is a scottish journalist.
Jan 22 Apollo, Glasgow, Scotland
A Riot of Our Own p227.
support Jan 21 & 22nd were Glasgow band "First  Priority". One of thier members is a scottish journalist.
Jan 23 University, Lancaster
A Riot of Our Own p227 - See Blackpool Gazette
Jan 24

Tiffany’s, Blackpool cancelled

A Riot of Our Own p227 - See Blackpool Gazette
Jan 25 King Georges, Blackburn
supported by The Not Sensibles
Jan 26 Deeside Leisure Centre, Queensferry, Nr Chester
Jan 27 Top Rank, Sheffield
A Riot of Our Own p222
Jan 29 St. Georges, Bradford
Jan 30 Royal Spa, Bridlington
Support The Akrylics and the Gang of Four

Support for this gig was (The) Akrylykz, Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals first band

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrylykz

I don't know if Gang of Four were supposed to play (no support acts were listed on the ticket), but they didn't as far as I recall - Mikey Dread did a set after Akrylykz and got a lot of racist abuse from some local idiots stage left. The abuse died down when Strummer, Simenon and Mickey Gallagher came out and skanked along with Mikey Dread. mark west

Jan 31 University, Leeds
Feb 1 Victoria Hall, Hanley - cancelled
Poster advertising Clash concerts at the Victoria hall in Hanley near Stoke- on- trent. The concerts stated are for 1/2, 20/2, 12/6, & 18/6.

Hanley Victoria Hall, Feb 1 was postponed at least twice, maybe three times. I think the final date was either mid-May or early June (the May date may have been cancelled because Topper broke his finger)

Feb 3 Apollo, Manchester
Feb 4 Apollo, Manchester
Feb 5 Top Rank, Birmingham
Feb 6 Top Rank, Birmingham
Feb 7 Tiffany’s, Coventry
On the Road with the Clash
Traxmarx - includes this gig
Feb 9 Guild Hall, Portsmouth
Feb 10 Wessex Hall, Poole
Feb 11 Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Wales
The venue is no longer there as the roof collapsed under the weight of snow in the big snowfall of winter 80/81. I seem to remember that the support act, Mikey Dread had a rough time and performed under a hail of pint glasses. However towards the end of his set The Clash came out on stage to join him and skanked around with bandanas covering their faces (a la Bankrobber) and, of course, the mood changed instantly! The gig was stopped on at least one occasion as Mick & Joe pleaded with the crowd to stop fighting. Also there was a big gap at the end of the gig before they came back for their (2nd?) encore, and in fact part of the crowd had already left before they played ?White Riot? and there was a massive surge as people tried to get back into the venue.
Feb 12 Stateside, Bournemouth
Feb 13 Top Rank, Southampton
Feb 15 Electric Ballroom, London
The 1979 shows at the Electric Ballroom were supported by Joe Ely and a group called the Vincent Units - the Lyceum gig (on the Sunday was Mikey Dread and the Nips)...Supported by someone called ANgel?
Feb 16 Electric Ballroom, London
The 1979 shows at the Electric Ballroom were supported by Joe Ely and a group called the Vincent Units - the Lyceum gig (on the Sunday was Mikey Dread and the Nips)...Supported by someone called ANgel?
Feb 17 Lyceum, London

The 1979 shows at the Electric Ballroom were supported by Joe Ely and a group called the Vincent Units - the Lyceum gig (on the Sunday was Mikey Dread and the Nips)

Feb 18 Odeon, Lewisham
Feb 20 Victoria Hall, Hanley
Poster advertising Clash concerts at the Victoria hall in Hanley near Stoke- on- trent. The concerts stated are for 1/2, 20/2, 12/6, & 18/6.

Hanley Victoria Hall, Feb 1 was postponed at least twice, maybe three times. I think the final date was either mid-May or early June (the May date may have been cancelled because Topper broke his finger)

Feb 22 Liberty Theatre, Balham, London cancelled
...Ticket ...Poster
Feb 23 Mile End Liberty Theatre, London cancelled
...Poster
Feb 25 Bristol Colston Hall
Cancelled Toppers injury to his hand. Ticket
Feb 27 Le Palace, Paris, France
Filmed for the French TV Chorus with Antoine Decaunes.