Supported by Sisters of Mercy and Nod The Geordie Poet
updated 4 August 2014 - added full review
cdr source 1 master - good - minus 1 track - Sound 4+ - 96min - -tracks 23
cdr source 2 - above average - minus 1 track - Sound 4 - 96min - Unknown gen? - tracks 23
The Clash played two night’s at Newcastle’s City Hall (originally scheduled for 5th & 6th May prior to Joe’s disappearance) but regretted the choice of venue. When asked by Newcastle fanzine Eccentric Sleeve Notes why they were playing a seated venue known for the bouncers reputation for keeping people in their seats Joe admitted “shouldn't be playing here. It's seats. We were banned for two years. I wish they'd kept the ban up. We're only playing here because there's a demand.” Only the City Hall with its 2,000 capacity was considered large enough for the band’s Newcastle following now although reportedly neither night was sold out (and the Mayfair ballroom where the band had played in 1980 had a fair 1,500 capacity).
The band could not get the two way reaction needed to feed off the seated audience, “..we think we're going down crap. That put us off” said Joe. The evidence however, from the audience recordings is the band did deliver performance wise, working really hard to fire up the audience and in turn themselves. Therefore the bootleg of this gig, particularly the less circulated master recording (one of the best quality recordings from this tour) is really worth seeking out.
Mark Cooper for Record Mirror was at the gig and his piece which includes a fascinating interview with Joe appeared in their July 24th edition [Link]. Entitled ‘Doubt and Desperation On The Edge Of Town” he found Joe in a depressive mood, no doubt partly due to the frustration of trying to work a seated audience but also something we now know he suffered from and fought against periodically in his life.
Exhausted and suffering from insomnia he said for the previous 6 months since he gave up dope, he recounts a recurring dream of singing Garageland up a camel’s arse! It’s meaning he thinks is; “To me it means that there’s very little of me left and that I’m willing to gamble the little there is on the Clash.”
Mark Cooper contrasts the gig he’d seen a few days earlier in Brixton (unseated) where he said the band ‘fired on all cylinders and the audience went with them in a sweaty, heaving cry of joy’ with tonight’s gig in Newcastle where he said the band ‘died before an audience watching them as if from behind thick glass’. Joe agreed ‘..tonight the crowd was so dead I was thinking we should quit what’s the point of this if we’re not turning them on? I don’t want to end up like the Stones I find it terrifying that 100,000 want to go and see them in this day and age. It’s necrophilia. He went on “I’m quite ready to be knocked off my perch but I’d like It to be by someone who cares, a younger version of myself, I suppose. . . To me, it’s 1962 again. We’re like Gene Vincent, a bit ageing but still viable and Visage, ABC, The Human League are all Connie Francis, pop watering down and feeding off rock . . . the few rebels have got to surface!”
The Clash returned to Newcastle in 1982 to play two nights at The City Hall. I remember a group of us went along to the gig, and that we were sitting pretty close to the front. I don’t think the venue was full. I remember the gig being ok, but not on the same level as earlier Clash gigs that I’d seen. This was the last time I saw The Clash.
On the same site support act Nod (aka Alan Clark) writes
The Sisters of Mercy provided support on at least one of the two nights
cla541: 1982 Newcastle city hall, two nights fantastic experience still got the ticket stubs- 1 signed , managed to get on stage and back stage and Paul gave us four cans of larger for the hitch home.
Eccentric Sleeve Notes has photos of the gig as well as the following extract from the interview with Joe;
After the show, I remarked to Joe Strummer that judging by the set list they could easily be in the middle of the 'London Calling' tour and not 'Combat Rock'.
JS: Yeah, that's because we've just been learning the basics with Terry. We started with 35 numbers we can play with him. We played 24 tonight.
ESN: Will the set remain the same throughout the tour?
JS: No, we've got ten numbers to play with. We try to learn new ones - two a day. The car broke down today so the sound check was fucked. We were going to play 'Car Jamming' and 'Ghetto Defendant' but it was such a crap show tonight we didn't feel like it.
JS: We've been trying to learn stuff with Terry we've never played live before like 'Death or Glory'
ESN: What's involved in Club Kasbah?
JS: We want to try and make the gig more fun for the audience. Like, it didn't go down well tonight. We had the Burundi drummers playing a couple of nights ago. We have Mikey Dread playing records. We try to come on early and leave some time at the end for Kosmo to play records and for people to dance at the unseated venues. At the end of the show a couple of nights ago, I made the announcement that we were going to get changed and come out. Everybody thought we were coming back on stage. They all stood round it watching the roadies take the equipment down. What I meant was that we were going to come into the audience and have a drink. The next night at Stoke we thought, "Right, we won't make an announcement and see what happens". So after we had done the set Kosmo started playing some great records and they all went home! We're still trying to work out how to do it. Gigs are so shit these days. We're just trying to figure out how to make them more of an evening out, a bit more fun.
The 2000 seated City Hall on Northumberland Road is the prestigious concert hall for classical and popular music in Newcastle. It opened in 1927 and is still in operation today but its long term future is uncertain. The venue for live albums by Motorhead, Slade and Emerson Lake and Palmer, the City Hall stage has also seen the likes of the Stones, The Beatles, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, the Animals and Springsteen.
There are two known audience recordings of this gig which circulate in differing quality. The first source excludes Garageland but includes (most) of Train In Vain and in its best circulating quality is a good audience recording with plenty of detail but suffers from a flatness and limited range; like the majority of audience recordings of the time.
The second and best source, from the master tape must have been recorded on superior recording equipment (atypical of the time) and includes Garageland but excludes Train In Vain and has a number of small edits. Although it suffers from some tape wear it has a bright enjoyable sound with more musicality. It has a wider range, plenty of top end detail and all instrumentation is clear (although bass could be more pronounced). This master source is not widely circulating but is certainly the one to have as it is one of the best of the tour.
By adding to the best master source Train In Vain and the missing edit gaps (see below) from the first source makes for the best and most complete aural document of this memorable gig.
Some tape wear on the best master source on the Morricone intro and the start of London Calling soon settles down to reveal a rich detailed enjoyable sound. Joe is audibly trying to get themselves and the audience going. The initial attack continues swiftly after a “Mr Michael Jones is gonna start this one” with a pumped up Clash City Rockers followed by Know Your Rights; Terry’s drum pattern too unrelenting, the hard rock sound needs more roll to go with the rock to be really enjoyable.
“White Man” orders Joe and the band slam into the audience favourite, they sing along, it again sounds fresh and re-energised on this tour after its rest State side. If the audience are largely passive as reported the performances are strong and committed.
The early attack of favourites continues with Safe European Home; Joe adlibs as the band drop it down then build it back up; as subtle as a sledgehammer! Guns of Brixton is again tight and effective with the final instrumental section very enjoyable. Then it’s straight into Somebody Got Murdered; Mick plays around with the crescendo intro as Terry builds it back up to the climax. Mick’s vocals are a little too low but it drives along powerfully, when Joe comes in dramatic tension doubles then Terry builds it up to final climax. A song that’s great live usually and does not disappoint here.
The best source loses the intro and start of Magnificent Seven but the second source doesn’t. “Yes this is for those forgetting entitled the magnificent spaghetti [?]“ intro’s Joe. There’s some tape wear on the master source, Joe adlibs over the “guitar city” bridge but it’s an OK not exceptional Mag7. After an edit at the end of the song the sound improves for a definite highlight; “Like to introduce Mr Michael Campbell, the Dread at The Controls, Mikey Dread. Let’s do Bankrobber Mikey, UK tour”. Mikey was said to have fallen out with the band thinking he did not get due credit for his input into the Sandinista/Bankrobber studio work but that’s clearly now forgotten on one of his last stage appearances with the band. Mikey’s toasting on Rockers Galore UK Tour in between Joe’s impassioned vocals are both very clear on the recording as are Terry ‘s added drum rolls and Mick’s jagged guitar licks.
The best source misses the start of Wrong Em Boyo, when unusually Joe’s vocals do not come in and so the band improvise for 30 seconds or so then (best source starts and therefore sound quality improves) and it goes into the “start all over again please sir” rhythm change. Sounds great now; bass line clear and lots of top end detail. Train In Vain is only on the alternative source and that loses a number of seconds after an edit at the start.
The second cd starts with shouts for White Riot near the taper and then the band crash impressively into Police and Thieves. Joe’s vocals cease presumably trying to get the audience stage side to sing and then Mick’s solo and Joe’s vocals return working hard to get an audience reaction. The band drop it down to drum and bass and the audience clap along. The best source has an edit then which loses around 30 seconds (present on the alt. source.) Joe wails as the band bring it back up then a shouted “1-2-3” from Joe brings it to a close. An OK Rock The Casbah next most effective during the “over at the temple” section.
A somewhat ragged Complete Control next without the slow guitar build -up of the FHTE Boston etc. An intense Police On My Back though is excellent with a variation on the dropped down mid-section extending it with some great lead guitar work from Mick, then to just drum and bass and then Mick blasts it out through the chorus and the finish with Joe and Mick screaming it out. A highlight.
Energy levels are maintained to the end of the set through a rather ragged but fast Brand New Cadillac and a good if unexceptional Clampdown; Joe’s (not lengthy) adlibs unclear but as ever powerfully enigmatic!
The alt. source continues before Terry beats out the start of Armagideon Time; no Mikey or unusually by now a segue into the next song. Joe wails effectively over the musically sparse backing, lacking more imaginative guitar fills and Terry’s reggae chops are limited. Then its straight into a fine Stay Free and I Fought The Law ends the encore.
Again the alt source continues and the audience near the taper certainly do not sound apathetic and unengaged. The master tape source restarts as Terry’s bass drum thump heralds Straight To Hell, a great sounding performance, Joe in good voice and the guitars very clear. “OK he’s gonna sing in English and I’m gonna sing in Spanish!” a strong Should I Stay Or Should I Go followed immediately by an intense Career Opportunities. With Joe’s “La la lah, lal lal lah lah“ the band launch into the usual Garageland finale (not on alt source). As the band leave the stage Joe says cryptically(a reference to the perceived lack of audience reaction perhaps) “take about 50-50, 50 for you 50 for us”
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