16 Tons Tour Europe/cancelled dates due to Toppers injury.

last updated 30 Dec 2008 -
added punters comments/correct date/ticket

cdr direct from - Clash in Hamburg LP - Sound 4 - time 49min - tracks 16

Visit the Clash on Stage website for a comprehensive catalogue of unofficially released CD's and Vinyl.

This is the infamous riot show where there was mayhem in the audience and on the stage, riot police battling with fans outside, and Joe was arrested for seriously assaulting a ‘fan’ with his guitar. His actions shocked Joe, and had a lasting personal impact on him.

He would raise the incident in a number of interviews there after. Joe said, “I nearly murdered somebody, and it made me realise that you can’t face violence with violence. It doesn’t work”. There is information on the night from three sources; German newspaper reports from the time, an eyewitness account described in Last Gang In Town, and interviews with Joe.

Newspaper reports

The Clash in Hamburg LP rear cover was made up of local press cuttings, including a picture of Joe’s ‘victim’ on a stretcher. Higher definition cuttings on the web [see photos] reveal (via translation) the following headlines and information; “Punk Terror! Punk rockers – 14 arrested again, lathe worker hurt by [assault] and battery, 16 cars demolished, slabs/bricks destroy flats and shopping parade, hell noise! Punk concert-police arrest singer! The punks – a mixture of anxiety and aggression” Under a picture of Joe being marched off by policemen; “The singer and guitarist Joe Strummer was arrested after the concert”. Under a photo of the band playing, “The audience was excited, but up to the third song The Clash were unhindered, then some punks wanted to storm the stage, and roadies tried to prevent them” An article says that out of 1000 in the audience 80 were rioting”

The press cuttings fail to confirm the exact date of the gig, usually credited as the 20th as this is the date on the LP rear cover. But this may well be the newspaper publication date. A poster for the gig has the 12th May on it [photo], whilst a press cutting says in a literal translation “today announced Clash concert in Markthalle is on 19 may transferred become”. German sites date the show as the 19th, so maybe the gig was postponed from the 12th to the 19th? Can anyone confirm?

Last Gang In Town

One of the best things about the revised version of Marcus Gray’s book is that it at last answers what so many Clash fans have been wondering for 20 years; what were those people grabbing the microphone and shouting in German, actually saying! Gray includes an account from Adrian Whittaker who was at the gig; “Hamburg then had a strong, politicised, anarcho-punk scene with some very heavy squats in continual conflict with the Police.

It was these squatters who came to the gig en masse to crash the gig and berate the band for abandoning punk’s values. They tried to get in free, couldn’t, sat down in the main road outside and brought traffic to a standstill. Tempers frayed when cleared away by riot Police, besieging the door, although the show was sold out someone let them in. The dance floor was a seething pit of pogoing and fighting bodies.

There were sorties onto the stage during early numbers to grab the mikes and make speeches along the lines of “The Clash aren’t playing for revolution they’re playing for CBS!” Mikes and stands started disappearing from the stage, eventually leaving the 3 front men clustered around one mike”

“One particular guy was screaming at the crowd to have a go at Joe- according to the paper the next day he was shouting, “Kill him”- as well as hitting all and sundry around him. It was this guy who Joe walloped, and fairly understandably I reckon. It calmed down slightly then, but The Clash never really recovered their composure ”

Adrian says these were not as Joe there after maintained designer punks and 4 years behind the times, as Joe maintained but were the real thing They were not only displaying the attitudes but also living for real the lifestyle the Clash had promoted on their first 2 albums, a lifestyle which despite Joe’s insistence of encoring with White Riot the band apparently no longer wanted to be associated with.

It was a night that throws up in stark relief the realities and contradictions inherent in the stance The Clash put out in 1977, not least towards the issue of violence. Joe had said in 1977 that he wanted a “White Riot” every night and didn’t care if it meant he or the audience got injured, “I don’t care, as long as it’s out of control”.

By 1980 Joe’s views had changed and he had seen first hand violence in the audience and people getting hurt. The Clash by 1980 wanted to achieve change by changing hearts and minds, not by riot and thus inevitably violence to achieve it.

But in Hamburg many of these fans saw The Clash as having sold out both musically and ‘politically’, the “CBS schweine” To some extent The Clash were reaping what they sowed but to the bands credit, Mick announced mid gig that anyone could have their money back, they weren’t there to make money. Moreover Joe at the end of the gig says “Hope to see you in Hamburg doing it better than we did it in London, good luck with the future”

Joe interviews

Roy Carr in the NME, 1980 "I was emotionally shattered, completely disheartened to see what's happened to the seeds of what we've planted. If those pricks and kids like them are the fruits of our labours, then they're much worse than those people they were meant to replace."

Radio Hallam December 80 interview; “I realised myself through personal experience its just futile to combat violence with violence” Talking of the 1980 European tour “There’s all these new punks in Europe just turned onto it and they just want to hear the sound of 76 and they’re willing to punch you down unless you give it to them. I didn’t realise because we hadn’t been to Europe for 2 years and before no one was interested. I myself went over the top at one show laying about me with a guitar neck, after that I realised that never again would I combat violence with violence” Interviewer says “I didn’t realise there was violence in Europe” Joe replies “We exported it!” He goes on in the interview to talk of his disagreement with Paul over the guns imagery Paul was into, and used in Guns of Brixton.

Early 2000 interview; "We'd go back for punch-ups with the noble citizens of Hamburg. We had the return annual match. I was actually arrested by the second year. They suddenly got into punk two years after the fact and they went at it with a vengeance to make up for lost time. We were seen as worse than the Eagles stylistically. They said, 'Right, we'll turn up and give 'em a good kicking.' We let 'em in the gig and then it was either have a pitched battle or attempt to play the set. In the end we had to get down and slug it out with them.

It was like being a professional wrestler. The band and crew got down on the dance floor with the punks and started to battle en masse. Meanwhile the innocent burghers of Hamburg were standing around the edges on little raised tiers, still watching. As the fight was going on I was thinking, 'this is ridiculous! One minute you're in a band and the next you're slugging it out.'

It seemed to make no difference to the people watching! I looked up and saw them standing there with the same expressions on their faces. I remember thinking, 'God! Where will this end?'

"The first time we went there this guy was undoing my Doc Martens all night as we played. About the fifth time I said, 'The next time you touch it I'll do you, 'cause I'm trying to sing.' He touched me again, so I kicked him in the head. After the show I was in the washroom and he was washing blood off his face. I said, 'Oh, I'm sorry about that.' 'It doesn't matter.' He was a little guy. The next time we went there, there was a real big riot.

While I was waiting to be arrested this giant came backstage and said, 'You! You are ze one who last year you kicked my face! This time you don't get away with it! You started that riot! I'm gonna tell the cops!' I went, 'Oh my fucking hell! It's you!' Two years before he'd been a little shrimp and here he was Nordic Man himself!" Joe roars with laughter. "I was thinking, 'This is like a stupid short story.'

"Luckily I was stone-cold sober when they arrested me. The chief of police came up to me in the cell and went, 'Is this the Englander who's accused of beating up punks?' They went, 'Yeah'. He came over to me and bent down and said 'Good for you, mate' Then he straightened up and walked away. There was a review of the gig in the paper the next day. Instead of a picture of someone singing, it was two men running with a bloke with a bandage on his head on a stretcher through this riot-strewn area. And it said, 'Last night the Clash played.'"

The Marthalle is still a regular music venue today; see photos, with a capacity of 1100 standing

Clash on Hamburg LP

The LP circulated widely in the early 80’s, always available in Camden market. The producers of the LP were obviously from the estimated 80 out of the 1000 audience, who were demonstrating against The Clash. The L of Clash is struck out on the cover and to make the point further the rear cover says schweine would not see a pfennig of the profits.

Whether because of their disgust at the musical sell-out as they saw it of London Calling, or not, 10 out of the 16 songs included on the LP are from 1977 with only 4 from London Calling period. It could also be of course that the set was so truncated by events on and off stage that the band did not play their usual longer set and more recent songs.

This is unlikely, there are a number of edits on the record and so its safe to assume that a number of songs were left off the album due to the playing time limitations of the LP format. We can only hope that one day the full master recording of this night will circulate. Visit the website for a comprehensive catalogue of unofficially released CD's and Vinyl.

Sound quality
The LP was mastered direct from the master audience recording, and has very good sound quality. All the instrumentation is clear and well defined, (although bass lacks some focus) with the vocals particularly good for an audience source. There is some stereo separation of the instruments, which makes it more enjoyable to listen to. There is significant surface noise at times emanating from probably a poor pressing. The sound has a slightly distant underground feel to it, although there is no distortion.

The LP begins with Joe shouting an urgent “1-2-3-4” then its straight into Clash City Rockers. With the tension and violence in the hall it’s no surprise that this performance, and the others tonight are charged and edgy. The sound level fluctuates then settles down.

Joe adds mid song “If you’ve anything to say then say it”. Of course because of the language barrier The Clash were not clear what people were shouting. The violence and anger of a significant minority in the audience must have been both confusing and frightening for the band.

“And one thing more” shouts Joe before a burning Brand New Cadillac. There’s a gap before Safe European Home as the band witness the growing agitation in the hall, then Joe says ”Feeble it ain’t even rebellion its just feeble”. It’s an electric start, the performances charged and exciting, then things boil over as the newspaper reports said; after the 3rd song a minority try to storm the stage.

Joe shouts, “Coke adds life, wake up, wake up!” before Koka Kola the song breaks down and there’s no vocals. Both roadies and the band are trying to prevent a stage invasion (see photo on press cuttings) Joe shouts presumably about the guy he’s about to batter about the head with his guitar, “What about that guy there, first he punched a bloke, first he.. “ Topper ‘s drums interrupts crashing in the start of an extraordinary I Fought The Law.

Joe begins to sing then stops with Mick taking over, it’s presumably now that Joe’s assault takes place. Joe sounds crazed and upset as he begins singing again, then says as the music continues “Ain’t you ever seen blood, my God, you don’t know what you’re asking for”.

Things must have broken down completely now, as there is an edit then a snatch of the band playing a slow jam, used to cool things down in gigs when the violence got out of hand. There are slow handclaps and shouts of “Clash, Clash” from those wanting the band to continue.

At last Joe says “Hammersmith Palais”, then Mick says, “This one called..the words say think its funny turning rebellion into money, we’re not here for the money, we’re here to play, you can have your money back we don’t mind, you can have your money back if you want”. Some cheers from the audience, then into the song. It suffers from the shock that Joe and the band must have been feeling, Joe adlibs “just no cash”, rest is unclear.

“Tell you why I’m not putting on because it’s a lie, Oh it’s a lie, OK where in all of Hamburg, where is Hamburg’s son of rock’n’roll? Which of these is you, let’s hear it, you can take it to England, there’s gigs waiting there, let’s hear it” Then chants of “Punk is Dead, Punk is dead” a guy grabs the mike and shouts “that’s right punk is dead” with the rest in German and references to CBS. Joe of course not understanding says, “Right now, 48 Hours needs 48 Thrills”, and Mick’s guitar slams in. Joe again adlibs but the words are not clear.

Topper beats out the intro to Police and Thieves over which Joe says “Alright, I tell you that’s a challenge, you rock it next time, next year, don’t shout at me, you do it yourselves, so I can shout back” It’s certainly a pertinent song tonight with the riot cops outside, and Joe adlibs as the song builds to its climax.

Side 2 begins with “Yeah, something happened in London 4 years ago one of its rules was lets get rid of the prejudices, I’m not working for the Clampdown”. Joe sings over the intro like the recorded version, “ransack ..choppers descend”, most sadly is unclear. Joe’s guitar comes through and adlibs as usual over the final section “blood of the nation, coming down”. English Civil War and a rarity no stage interruptions! Mick’s guitar work is economical, but powerful, the band regaining their composure somewhat.

An edit next and from here on lead guitar becomes low in the sound mix. Perhaps stung by criticism that their music has mellowed out (as Joe said in interviews “One guy was in tears, saying his Grandmother liked parts of London Calling”) and to prove that although they’ve moved on musically they’re still the best punk band, The Clash blast through 4 punk anthems, including White Riot. But before hand there’s more shouts and tirades at the mike. Joe angry responds “fight about something, you let the Police just push you about outside”.

Cheers from some in audience, then a woman starts shouting again but Topper cuts in beating out the intro to Janie Jones. Its then straight into a charged London’s Burning. Joe shouts an impatient “USA, USA”, then they blast into I’m So Bored With The USA.

As the song ends Topper beats out an intro and the band charge into White Riot, Joe’s vocals fiery and passionate, he must have loved singing tonight “Are you going backwards are you going forwards” Sell out, what sell out! But some are still not convinced and a woman makes a speech, then a man full of anger. Finally Joe says calmly, “Danke and hope to see you in Hamburg doing it better than we did it in London, good luck with the future”

Things must have calmed down enough to do an encore, as the record continues with a snatch of reggae over the PA then cuts into Armagideon Time. It’s a long powerful performance with Joe’s vocals particularly strong. The record and presumably the gig ends with Complete Control. Mick’s guitar is still low in the mix but the intensity of Joe’s vocals ensures the power of the performance is not diminished. A shattered Joe Strummer is then arrested and led off to the cells, quite a night!

From: "Wilfried Lilie" <wannaget.records-at-t-online.de>
Date: 30 December 2008

Hi, having bought the 'Live at Shea Stadium' CD just before christmas and enjoying it very much, I thought I should google the internet for some Clash sites. I found your site and let me tell you that I liked it very much. Being a member of the audience in Hamburg in May 1980, I read your very deeply moving article on your site. Thank you very much for this labour of love. All the memories from this show came back to my mind and my brain produced some little films of what I have witnessed that day.

Anyway ..... I also read about the debate of the exact date of this show. I can 100% confirm that it was May 19, 1980. I know you need proof of that so I scanned my ticket and have attached it to this email. As you can see (and know) the original date was May 12. When I got the ticket, the date was corrected to 19th. The correction was not made by me but by the staff of the ticket agency where I bought my tickets from usually.

This should make history clear once and forever and I'm glad to help.
If you want, you can use the photo of the ticket wherever you like on your site. Would be nice if you give me credit for that.
Best regards - WILFRIED LILIE - LOHHEIDE/Germany


Clash City Rockers
Brand New cadilac
Safe European Home
Koka Kola
I fought the Law
White Man
48 Hours
Police and thieves
English Civil War
Janie Jones
Londons Burning
Im so bored with the USA
White Riot
Armagideon Time
Complete Control

Any further info / reviews appreciated

German Newspaper clippings

Record Mirror

Clash cancel dates at Balham,
Mile End Cinemas. New June dates. Bankrobber "uncommercial"

27 April 1980 Observer
Joe Interv on 16 Tons Tour

May 12 Markthalle, Hamburg - cancelled dates due to Toppers injury - moved to 19th
May 13 Neue Welt, Hasenheide Park, Berlin
The concert on May 13th at the Metropole (as listed) was moved to the "Neue Welt" in the Hasenheide Park (Berlin) Juergen
May 14 Schwabingerbrau, Munich
May 15 Oberlaa, Vienna, Austria
May 17 Wartburg, Wiesbaden
May 18 Philipshalle, Dusseldorf, West Germany
May 19 Messehalle, Hamburg, West Germany
...Joe arrested for hitting a violent fan with his guitar...

Hi, I think, that I have visited the Clash concert in Hamburg on 19. Mai 1980 not in the 'Markthalle', but in the much bigger 'Messehalle', a rather naked concrete hall. So also the foto of the 'Markthalle' is misleading. The opening band was 'Ton, Steine, Scherben' with vocalist Rio Reiser. Or do I remember a different concert on a different date? with kind regards, Heinrich

Did the Clash play two nights in Hamburg?

May 21 Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway
advert for the gig + ...photo 1 ...photo 2 ...photo 3 ...photo 4
May 22 Olypen, Lund, Sweden
May 23 Eriksdalsballen, Stockholm, Sweden
May 24 The Scandinavium, Gothenburgh, Sweden
May 26 Cambrai, France
Best Magazine no.143 French Advert for French dates May
May 27 Palais de Sports, Paris, France
May 28 Hall Tivoli, Strasbourg, France
Best Magazine no.143 French Advert for French dates May
May 29 Palais D'Hiver,Lyon, France
Best Magazine no.143 French Advert for French dates May
May 30 Theatre De Verdure, Nice

I was at the Clash gig at the Theatre de Verdure on may 30 1980 in Nice, France. I saw them again very shortly afterwards at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. If they definitely played Newcastle Mayfair on June 12, then the Hanley gig would have to be on 18 June. An 18 day gap seems about right, from memory.

Best Magazine no.143 French Advert for French dates May

Jun 1 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, Italy
Jun 3 Parco Ruffini, Torino, Italy
Jun 9 Derby Assembly Rooms, Derby
Jun 10 Colston Hall, Bristol
Jun 11 Colston Hall, Bristol
Jun 12 Mayfair, Newcastle
Jun 12 Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke - CANCELLED AGAIN
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)

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.

Jun 14 Rettel Festival, France
Jun 16 Hammersmith Palais, London
Supported by Spartacus (toaster) and Holl and the Italians.
Jun 17 Hammersmith Palais, London
Supported by Spartacus (toaster) and Holl and the Italians.
Jun 18 Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke
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)

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.

"The gig at Hanley on 18 June definitely took place - J Heath"

The Clash certainly played. I believe that june 18th was the date and I remember a review in the evening Sentinel some time afterwards? Tickets were sold at Mike lloyds record shop Hanley (now long gone as is Lotus etc) Tickets cost £3-ish, sorry lost my ticket stub, for which I believe was dated Febuary the 1st or 2nd, I think. Certain on the month but not 100% on the date. yes the gig was postponed about 4 times and we only got tickets due to returns who could not make the rescheduled dates.
Discharge opened, i remember them tuning up on stage, then Holly & The Italians.

Clash played a largely London calling set as I remember, I recall London Calling, Bankrobber, I fought The Law and Armagiddeon Time, They possibly played complete control, Tommy Gun and the English Civil War? The place was packed out.

It was my first gig and I was only 12 at the time (no alcohol was served, there was always kids running riot at early 80's victoria Hall gigs) and was disappointed with the new material, me and my little friends wanted punk rock, what did we know about the diversity of London Calling and the 6 sides Sandanista (now my favorite album) to come. I remember my ears ringing at school the next day. Sorry can not really remember a lot. We left whilst they were still playing Armagiddeon Time, I heard a rumor years later that they came back for another encore that included White Riot. I do remember the audience demanding this track throughout the gig and the band refused the play it, saying something like that was 3 years ago or some other negative comment.

NO Doubt that they played this gig at all. I could ask my Brother at the coming Christmas Family gathering for his memories if you are interested, he was 16 at the time and could possibly remember more. perhaps he still has a ticket stub?

All the best, Paul. paulekennett[a]gmail.com

Jun 21 Laugardalshöllin Sports Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland
The concert was on June 21st 1980 in the Laugardalshöllin sports hall like most major concerts in Iceland. It was part of the Icelandic Arts Festival which is still held biannually. The hall was full, about 5000 people. The warmup band was Utangar?smenn ("The Outsiders") who were very big at the time. The band I play in now (not then), Fraebbblarnir, was supposed to play too, but at the last moment, the organisers decided they weren't "politically relevant" enough. Fuckers.

I went backstage to meet them. There was a queue a mile long for autographs. The first thing I saw was Joe, signing tits, arms, tickets and whatever like he was on an assembly line. "You look knackered, mate", I said. "You speak English?" he said. "Thank god. Sit down and have a cigarette. I'm not signing any more."

So we sat there for about half an hour, chatting about the Icelandic music scene and whatnot, sharing his cigarettes, beer and whisky, until it was time for the Clash vs. road crew football (soccer) game, an after-concert fixture. I sat on the sidelines and drank whisky with Mikey Dread who was the soundman for the gig, I believe. Now, the band were pretty uniformly useless at football, especially Mick, who pranced around in high heeled, white cowboy boots and fell over a lot. The band went on to beat the roadies for the first time in living memory, so I was well chuffed.

Aug 23 Heatwave Festival, Mosport Park Toronto
Billed as a "new wave Woodstock" [punkstock], the Heatwave festival was held at Mosport Park, northeast of Toronto, Ontario. Performers included Elvis Costello, The Pretenders and Talking Heads. The Clash cancelled at the last minute, leaving Elvis Costello to headline introducing themselves to the crowd as "Hello, we're the Clash". In the end only half as many people as expected, 50,000 people showed up. Review in the NME. See also Post Punk Diary page 73.