16 Tons Tour

Supported by Mikey Dread, Lee Dorsey & The B-Girls

updated 2 April 2007
updated 28 Dec 2008 - added new venue pics and details + photo

cdr - upgraded – low generation - sound 4+ – 88.36 mins – 25 tracks

cdr- unknown gen – sound 4 – 86.58mins – 25 tracks

‘Lifetimes’ TV documentary
audio sound quality 4 -
video: poor picture quality – 6.36 mins

New York Palladium March 1980 © Bob Gruen -
http://www.starfileonline.com

Back in New York

The third (and final) Clash sell-out gig in the Palladium in just over a year. With the east coast’s movers and shakers in the audience the Clash knew the Palladium shows were important. They again don’t disappoint delivering a superb energy-filled performance, particularly in the first half and by the final encore Joe is sounding tired and hoarse. Thankfully an excellent audience recording exists of the show together with a video from a US TV short documentary on the gig.

The celebs were there again Debbie Harry, Scorsese, Robert De Niro, David Bowie etc. Photographers were there in force; Bob Gruen ,Ebet Roberts and Richard Aaron’s. The latter’s are superb (see below)

New York Rocker

Richard Grabel in New York Rocker (July-August 1980) wrote of the show; “From the opening chords of Clash City Rockers”, it was clear that the group had a new level of confidence and control. They no longer raced against each other; their sound cohered and connected. At the same time, they were now more of a regular rock’n’roll band (albeit a great one) than they’d ever been before. The pacing of their set served for last the torrent of energy they’d once unleashed from the start…Mick Jones came on more and more like a self-conscious guitar hero.

Yet Jones pulls off those moves so convincingly, and conveys such joy at his developing abilities, that I, for one can’t begrudge him his fun. And the sweetest moment of the show came when Strummer spat out that line in Complete Control “they’re dirty, they’re filthy, they ain’t gonna last”. I imagined the corporate execs who market this music saying just those words less than 2 years ago. Yet here were The Clash on their third US tour proving the nay-sayers wrong with a top 30 album. The thought gave, me a rush of pride and pleasure”.

Charles Shaar Murray in his Mojo tribute
to Joe in 2003 wrote;

“One of the greatest rock’n’roll experiences I‘ve ever had in my life was attending a Clash show in New York in early 1980. I was at the side of the stage watching from the wings, standing between Joey Ramone and David Bowie, when The Clash played Hammersmith Palais and London Calling back-to- back, and I was so giddily caught up in the transcendent emotional and sensual power of the moment that I didn’t even say hello to Bowie or Joey. The Clash...could do that to a person.” CSM’s memory is incorrect Guns Of Brixton was played between the two but as the recording amply demonstrates the performances of these two songs that night were indeed superlative.

Lifetimes TV Documentary

An excellent and very positive 7-minute documentary appeared on US TV on the programme ‘Lifetimes’ with live clips from the Palladium show and interviews with fans outside and the band backstage. A good audio dub circulates but video copies are generally poor which is a shame as the live clips are brilliantly intense.

It begins with the narrator “The Palladium in New York City, the setting for a dramatic and surprising success story”. A fan outside says “The Clash are really happening, and really now, the greatest band around today” The narrator then says “ Ladies and gentlemen, The Clash” and the scene changes dramatically to the Palladium stage and the crashing start of Whiteman, then edits seamlessly to Joe singing the “army‘s out there” verse. Cut back to fans outside “tickets sold out for 3,800 seats in around 90 minutes” and complaints about scalpers (touts).

A fan amusingly describes The Clash as “lower class music” but we know what he meant! There’s more short live clips of Whiteman and the end of Clash City Rockers. The narrator makes the point “At a time when disco and soft rock still rule the record charts, the angry, violent and political sound of The Clash is getting through”. Tom Carson of Rolling Stone is introduced as the writer who dubbed The Clash “the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world”. Tom says “there’s a very romantic, heroic, rebellious message in the music” The range of reactions of US fans is illustrated well by 2 fans interviewed outside. The first a black guy says “They represent rebellious youth today, they represent the revolution that’s brewing over this country and the world” Whilst a punkette says “I don’t know why I like them, don’t have to know everything!”

New York Palladium March 1980 © Bob Gruen -
http://www.starfileonline.com

It cuts next to a classic interview with a very stoned band backstage. Reporter asks the typical impossible question “How would you describe what the lyrics of your songs are all about” Mick replies joking “That’s a difficult one, now we’ve had it!”. Then Joe says “I can attempt a definition”. He throws his head back and lets out a long loud scream. Paul says “Same goes here” and Mick “What he says for me too!”. Joe goes on “ We’re trying to tell the truth for once, we have to fight with all the town councils and idiots of the whole world over and there’s plenty of them” The reporter says “Why do you think it’s so difficult to deal with these people?” Joe replies “because they’re dead from the neck down”.

Next is short intense clip of Paul singing the end of Guns of Brixton, before it cuts back to the interview. Reporter “How do you classify yourselves?” Mick responds “All categories unnecessary at this stage” Joe “ If we had to pick a category, I’d say we were learning the game, learning our strokes”.

The film ends with a longer excellent clip of English Civil War.

Venue

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]"


Two known audio sources

There are 2 known sources for the full recording. The most commonly circulated has had several upgrades, so watch out for various qualities in circulation. The poor recordings which circulate are still very listen able. One omits White Riot. An older tape had a very thin sound with too much top end, little bottom, otherwise quite reasonable. The sound on both in the closing couple of tracks begins to seriously deteriorate. The best version of this source is a very good audience recording with a bass heavy sound, and some distortion.


Photo Courtsy of Aaron

The second and best source has significantly more detail and clarity. It is a mono recording but the quality of sound suggests some professional expertise or equipment. It appears to be an audience recording but the lack of distance in the vocals in particular suggest stage side or similar. Its only flaws are a little thinness and some very slight distortion when the db rise to the top. It’s clearly from a very low generation source, bass is low in the mix but with bass controls turned up it’s a full and very enjoyable sound.

The sound on Clash City Rockers is flatter and less enjoyable but after a third of Brand New Cadillac the sound improves and continues in high quality until Bankrobber where the sound dips then improves mid-song.

Crank up loud and enjoy!

The best Lifetimes audio dub is very clear mono sound. The live clips on Lifetimes presumably comes from this source but as this pro-sound source has never surfaced it may well not exist.

The best source begins with the 16 Tons intro and then as Tennessee Ernie Ford sings the final refrain, the band hit the stage to a roar of applause, Joe says “Hello, Good evening” and then curiously “Armagideon Time” before a charged Clash City Rockers kicks in. The highly enjoyable performance really starts to fly on a brilliant Brand New Cadillac, the overall sound is now excellent, and Joe is clearly in great form. A storming Safe European Home next, the twin guitar attack clear and powerful.

A break from the onslaught before Jimmy Jazz as Joe introduces Mickey; “Please welcome Mr Gluggo Gallagher on the organ, stage right, this is a man we’ve stolen temporarily off the blockheads, now we’re gonna try and sing this tune here .. look-out light just behind you! It’s a superb extended version, Mick great guitar work drives it along and Joe adlibs a plenty including “all Along the Watchtower as Jimi Hendrix sang on the stereo…You know about this kind of thing, I think you’ve been involved in it yourself, over town they spell his name right, they spell his name wrong, the window on the side of the underground,.. come on now we’re gonna drive somewhere (echoes of Broadway). Jazz as always allows the band to stretch out and improvise, and the 5-piece band is now super-tight after so many 16 Tons gigs.

London Calling is equally brilliant, a great charged performance. A quick instrument change for Guns Of Brixton. Paul really gets into the song, shouting out at the end (see the video) and the song is extended. One of the very best live Guns of Brixton. Next its Mick’s turn at the vocals on Train In Vain, “Slow train leaving at platform No.9”.

White Man In Hammersmith Palais is just superlative; hard and passionate, a real delight. Joe’s vocals are so intense adding an “I surrender”, after the 15 hundred tons line. Mick sings one verse, and Joe adlibs over an extended ending elusively but intriguingly a rap about “walking through the turnstiles…16 boys from Hammersmith”. Toppers drumming intensifies with Joe’s singing before the song comes to a breathless ending. CSM’s memory was right.

Next the tempo changes into a great Koka Kola with Mickey tinkling away, before it segues into an intense I Fought the Law. Next it’s “Like to do a ballad, this is a Clash ballad, goes by the name of Spanish Bombs” complete with stinging guitar lines from Mick.

“On the route of the 19 bus!” intro’s an excellent performance of the rareish Rudie Can't Fail with Joe in great vocal form, clearly enjoying himself

An edit, which loses on the best source only a shouted “Topper” from Joe, begins the second cd. Tops beats out a steady beat as Joe sings “Hit the Road Jack”, (the Ray Charles classic) with Mick doing the “No more, no more” line. Joe switches into 54-46 That’s My Number (Toots & The Maytals) before the usual Police and Thieves intro kicks in. Mick’s playing is inventive, taking liberties with the usual solos, Joe adlibs around the “next generation” line. It’s not as strong as earlier tour versions to these ears but the change in Mick’s effects heavy guitar sound since the last Palladium show is most welcome.

Next it’s a fine Wrong 'Em Boyo and then Joe clearly wants the pacing of the set raised as he shouts “Tora,Tora, Tora!” – attack! But instead a mellow Mick comes to the microphone; “It’s Mick, and it’s for my best mate in New York who’s a young Robert De Niro, and the only mate!” Presumably Mick’s dedication of Stay Free is to Harley (see Pennie Smith’s book) rather than De Niro himself!

It’s the charge through to encores now, as Topper beats out the bass drum until finally Mick’s guitar signals the start of an intense Complete Control. Clampdown next with a great extended rap from Joe.

As at Philadelphia Ian Dury joins the band on Janie Jones,”Like to bring on a special guest, star vocalist, Mr Ian Dury from the Blockheads. Got to dance!”. Ian shouts out solo the in tray verse in his inimitable voice and screams out “fill her up jacko!”. It comes to a great intense chaotic ending.

An edit before the first encore and Armagideon Time; “This tune written by Willie Williams..Mikey Dread come over here!” It’s a strong performance but Topper’s drumming on this song at this time is too one paced, there’s not enough changes in rhythm/drop outs to build tension in the song. It segues as usual into a brilliant performance of English Civil War and then with feedback hanging around the Palladium the band crash into an intense and excellent Garageland, with Joe spitting out the lyrics.

An edit goes straight into the second encore and Bankrobber. The sound dips at the start but recovers 1/3 way. Joe name checks Junco Partner and the song goes into Rockers Galore with Mikey on lead vocals.

There’s barely time for a thanks to Mikey before Topper drills out the intro to Tommy Gun and the energy levels soar again. Joe sounds increasingly hoarse and tired but keeps pushing himself, the incredible energy levels on the superlative first half of the gig taking it’s toll. Then it’s straight into an extended and increasingly rare White Riot. Another intense performance spoilt by an ineffectual solo from Mick. The song ends, Joe says “Goodnight and thank you” but Topper starts up again for a final verse and chorus. Joe sounds knackered but the crowd still shout and clap for more.

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Clash City Rockers
Brand New Cadillac
Safe European Home
Jimmy Jazz
London Calling
The Guns Of Brixton
Train In Vain
White Man In Ham Palais
Koka Kola
I Fought the Law
Spanish Bombs
Rudie Can't Fail
Hit the Road Jack
Police and Thieves
Wrong 'Em Boyo
Stay Free
Complete Control
Clampdown
Janie Jones
Armagideon Time
English Civil War
Garageland
Bankrobber
Tommy Gun
White Riot

Lifetimes TV

Commentry
Fans ... into Death or Glory
Commentry / Death or Glory
Fans / Death or Glory
White Man edit
Venue / tickets / fans
Commentry / Clash City Rockers
Tom Carson / Rolling Stone
Fans
Mick / Paul / Joe / Topper interview
Commentry / Guns Of Brixton
Commentry
Commentry / Joe / Mick / Paul
English Civil War

New York Rocker
July - Aug 1980

Ebet Roberts & Richard Aaron
14 excellent photos - musicpictures.com

NME - Photos

Charles Shaar Murray
Mojo's tribute to Joe - March 2003

Jenny Lens

Creem June 1980

27 April 1980 Observer
Joe Interv on 16 Tons Tour

Any further info / reviews appreciated

Mar 1 The Fox, Warfield, San Francisco CA, USA
A Riot of Our Own 235
Mar 2 The Fox, Warfield, San Francisco CA, USA
Mar 3 Santa Monica Civic, Los Angeles CA, USA
Mar 4 Santa Monica Civic, Los Angeles CA, USA
I was looking at your list of gigs and I wanted to add one. The Clash played two gigs at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1980,
March 3 and March 4. I attended both concerts. (My high school was across the street.) For the first concert a barricade was placed ten feet in front of the stage. Naturally, once the concert began people went over it. The next night the barricade was gone. These were the two best concerts I have ever attended. --David
Mar 6 Tower Theatre, Philadelphia PA, USA
Mar 7 Palladium, New York NY, USA
Mar 8 Capitol Theater, Passaic NJ, USA
Mar 9 Orpheum Theater, Boston MA, USA
Mar 10 Motor City Roller Rink, Detroit MI, USA
Apr 25 “Fridays” ABC-TV appearance, Los Angeles CA, USA
Apr 25 Los Angeles
According to the 16 Tons gig poster there was a gig in LA. Could Fridays have been pre-recorded and broadcast on the 25th?
Apr 27 Roxy Theatre, Hollywood CA, USA
“(The Roxy Theatre was) the smallest venue the Clash ever played in the States. And it was a very cool gig, they opened with “Time Is Tight”. The Roxy for years had a red velvet curtain. When it came time for the encore, the audience tore it down, and it was never replaced.”