last updated 20 December 2014 - full review
Supported by The Plastic Flies
source 1 - sound 2.5 - 94min - low gen - tracks 24
With a day for travelling The Clash pitched up in Irvine, for the first of only 4 dates on this tour in Scotland (and one of these at Edinburgh was an impromptu extra date). The next night’s gig in Inverness just 40 miles from Joe’s maternal family connections in Bonar Bridge must have been a special night for Joe and presumably included in the itinerary at Joe’s request as the band had never played so far north in Scotland before. Sadly no recording circulates of the Inverness Ice Rink gig but there are some great live photos, thanks Peskymesky here
Thankfully a recording does circulate of the Irvine gig, in varying quality, capturing an atmospheric hot sweaty gig with interruptions for spitting and concerns over crushing.
Music inky Clash veteran journalist Pete Silverton, was at the gig and interviewed Joe for his piece in the non-inky colour new Smash Hits “That night’s Clash show was efficient in a way I’d never seen them before. While it was obviously not one of their greatest gigs an unlikely prospect in a basketball hall of a vast sports centre set in the middle of a typically charmless industrial estate there was sureness and confidence in their performance. Mixing their very earliest material, Janie Jones, Garageland with their very newest Should I Stay, Rock The Casbah, they no longer relied on passionate chaos to get their message across. As the original punk band who’ve survived to the present day virtually intact [Topper?] The Clash have incorporated a wide varying body of songs without diluting their original sense of purpose. A not inconsiderable achievement”
The piece is of interest too for what it said about the band at the time. Silverton wrote that Mick Jones admitted “That although he’d been in charge of the band until the start of this year Joe had now taken over” “It’s partly ego, partly me, me me” said Joe and referring to Sandinista he said “The way I look at it Mick had his fling with that album. Then it was somebody else’s turn. But if the music’s good and true I couldn’t care if there’s a dog in charge, even Kermit!” Asked about Terry; “when he knows some of it (the songs) you’re not in a hurry to replace him. I’m happy with him. He can dress up in women’s clothes for all I care!”
The gig in his home town of Irvine changed John Niven’s when he was 16 changed his life and the ex A&R man, now successful author’s moving obituary is well worth reading in full below or here
Joe Strummer changed plenty of lives.. including mine
REMEMBER taking the phone call, almost exactly 10 years ago.
I was in the Forge Shopping Centre in Glasgow, doing some Christmas shopping. It was my mum who rang, who told me first. “Son,” she said, in the tone of voice she reserves for the truly terrible. “Have you heard the news?” I hadn’t. I remember sitting down heavily in whatever shop I was in and trying to take it in. I think I’m still trying.
Killed by a congenital heart defect. Gone forever at just 50 years old. Joe Strummer.
The Clash had a unique, special, relationship with Scotland. Perhaps it was something to do with the energy, anger and beauty in their music. In Scotland at that time, there was a lot of to be angry about. And a great need of some energy and beauty.
Maybe it was something to do with Strummer, their singer, rhythm guitarist and rebel soul, being half-Scottish with his mum Anna’s Highlander blood making every gig here a homecoming.
Whatever the reason, there are Scotsmen of a certain age for whom The Clash are something closer to a religion than a rock group and who regarded Strummer as being nearer Jesus or Moses than just another rock and roller. In the hours and days following his death in December 2002, I took calls from almost all my old pals from school shock and tears and disbelief.
We all saw the band together in the summer of 1982 in our hometown of Irvine, at the Magnum Leisure Centre.
It was a boiling hot night and I spent the entire two-hour show wedged against the front of the stage between Strummer and guitarist Mick Jones. They ran on to the stage you never see bands running on to the stage any more and crashed into London Calling, the whole band seeming to leap five feet in the air on the downbeat of the intro. I was 16.
Thirty years of gigs later and I have still not experienced anything that comes close to it. I remember the sweat running in a river down Strummer’s right arm, the one he played guitar with, pouring off his fingers and pooling on the stage.
My world went from black and white to Technicolor. Everything changed. In working class Ayrshire in the late 1970s, about the best you could hope for was to maybe follow your father and uncles into some kind of blue-collar labour.
The minute you heard Mick Jones singing: “The men at the factory are old and cunning, you don’t owe nothing, boy get running. It’s the best years of your life they want to steal” (sung by Jones, written by Strummer), the life you had perhaps been born into was blown apart. New worlds and vistas came pouring out of black vinyl grooves.
Over the years, as I went from Ayrshire to Glasgow Uni, to London to work in the music industry, Strummer went from being a god, to being a musician whose work you respected, to being an acquaintance. To call him a friend would be presuming far too much. Or maybe not nearly everyone Strummer met became his friend pretty quickly.
We got drunk together a few times. On one occasion, a few beers in, I told him he’d changed my life and then immediately apologised. “You must get sick of hearing that,” I said.
“Man,” Strummer said, looking at me. “Who’d ever get sick of hearing that?”
A few years later, in the late 1990s, I was in Glasgow, having a drink in a hotel bar during T in the Park week, with a bunch of old friends from Irvine. Suddenly, one of them said: “Oh, my God.” I turned. Strummer had walked through the door.
He joined us and we sat drinking and talking and smoking until his wife dragged him to bed at four in the morning. He was great company forever standing his round and those of several others too.
Sitting in a bar with your friends when Joe Strummer walks in and you shout him over and he joins you for the night? If you’d told the 16-year-old John Niven that would happen, he’d still be laughing now.
In the decade since his death, the great and good of rock and roll have lined up to pay tribute to the man who, to a generation of Clash fans, was simply Uncle Joe.
Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have covered his songs. Bono called Strummer’s voice “the most profound I have ever heard” and said that, without Strummer and The Clash, U2 would never have existed.
But, arguably, The Who’s Pete Townsend said it best. On hearing of the cause of Strummer’s death, he said simply: “That heart of his always worked too hard.”
My mum had suffered much loud disruption of her house during my teenage years thanks to the music Joe Strummer had made. But she felt it too, on the other end of the phone that day, December 22, 2002. Ten years on Saturday. She sighed and said: “He was just such a good inspiration to all of you boys.”
A good inspiration. You got that right, mum.
In an interview towards the end of his life, Strummer said: “I changed people’s lives. They tell me every day. Stopped them from jumping out of windows. Or made them go to university and try to make a difference with their lives.”
I was one of them. Thank you, Joe
Further memories of The Clash in Irvine can be found here
… my story concerns the summer of 1982 (I think) when I would have been 11. John Menzies in Irvine Mall had a huge ‘Combat Rock’ display in the window and The Clash were playing at the Magnum Leisure Centre, 20 minutes’ walk away. It was a roasting hot day and my brother and I were wandering up the mall. Right across from John Menzies there was a huge something going on. 4 or 5 guys dressed head to toe in denim, leather, shades and the coolest haircuts this 11 year old had ever seen were surrounded by some of Irvine’s finest ambassadors. I recognised someone who was in 6th year at my school amongst it all. He seemed quite excited. “It’s the fuckin’ Clash! The fuckin’ Clash! For fuck sakes, it’s the fuckin’ Clash!” I looked at the Combat Rock display. I looked at the guys in leather and denim. So it was. It was The Fuckin’ Clash. Being 11, it didn’t have the same seismic effect on me, but I still remember it well. Round about 1989 I started playing in bands and one of Irvine’s elder statesmen of rock told me how Mick Jones had given him a mohican in the dressing room after the Magnum show. Call me shallow, but I’m still dead impressed when I hear stories like that.
Mike Paterson - Guitarist with Plastic Flies who supported The Clash at Irvine gives an account of this and more particularly how they first came to support the band at the Glasgow Apollo in 1981 here. Thanks Tim.
Excerpt re Irvine below;
Next summer we bombarded Kosmo with requests to join the Combat Rock tour. We’d had a single out in the meantime, had some very encouraging press from Bob Flynn, plays from Radio One (Peel of course but also, very strangely, Peter Powell and an enthused Gary Kemp) and a visit from Adrian Thrills to a gig in Glasgow attended by the Glasgow band clique. I think they left in disgust; it was the summer of the guitar-backlash and words like “rockist” (one journalist called us “The Clash’s wee brothers”). After a summoning to CBS in ..Soho Square.. we clinched just one gig at the Irvine Magnum Centre on the proviso that our bass player, Morris, shave his beard off. We managed to turn this to our advantage by getting the local paper (Evening Times) to run it as a story “Clean-Shaven Clash; Ban on Beard a Sour Note”
The gig was delayed by the disappearing Joe stunt. We ..got to hang out with them again in the odd surroundings of Ayrshire’s Irvine leisure centre (the dressing room was accessed through a weights room full of muscled lifters). Joe was again the model of approachability and good humour, happy to pose for group photos football-team style. Kosmo, with his clippers, was giving Mohicans to all-comers in the shower cubicle and Mick was in a delightfully giggly mood (some good ganja obviously) in his Blade Runner cap and army shorts. I sat between Joe and Mick in the dressing room as the fans came in for autographs and chats. He was open and patient with everyone (“Is Mick still going out with Ellen Foley? “You’ll have to ask him.”) even organising a lift for a girl who had missed the last train back to Glasgow. His sense of humour was very dry and at that age I didn’t get his jokes. I tried to tell him about my Dad having secret marks on his passport because of his communist ties, tying it into the ….US…. “Take the Fifth” tour slogan until Joe halted the polemic by explaining that it had been a joke. The Clash dressing room seemed to be a convivial place where everybody was invited and few requests refused. They were the gang that everyone wanted to be a member of.
The experience of hanging around with Joe for the very brief time that our paths crossed is one that has lived with me for a long time. I don’t believe in unquestioning hero-worship (or fawning apparently) but his positive good humour, passion and humanity made him a role-model of behaviour without me realising it. He showed me that cool and a languid nihilism weren’t necessarily bedfellows and that you could be passionate about issues and still have a great haircut.
Irvine on the coast of the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire is still called a new town although its major development was back in the1960’s and in the style of architecture and planning of the time which has its detractors (but not The Proclaimers on Letter to America “Irvine no more”!)
The Magnum Leisure Centre still exists although in 2014 the Council has plans to demolish and redevelop the site. For many local people campaigning on its behalf though the Magnum is treasured for its memories, of acts large and small from Matt Munro to The Clash!
It was the biggest facility of its kind in the UK when it opened in 1976, with an indoor bowls hall, 3 squash courts, 2 swimming pools, sauna, solarium suite, ice rink, theatre/cinema, fitness room, weights room, games hall,2 cafeterias and a licensed bar!
One recording only is in circulation but in varying degrees of quality. The MP3 source is a generation or so off the best source which is close to the master. The best source suffers from tape wear, distance to the stage and a lack of range and dynamics due to the quality of the recording equipment used.
However it still captures the hot sweaty atmosphere with a decent level of clarity. Bass for an audience recording of the time is clear, drums and vocals OK, guitars are a little thin good but it’s a notch more enjoyable a sound than the Leicester recording 2 nights earlier. Crank it up its enjoyable despite its deficiencies.
Recording begins with the usual intro music then after a quick “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, London Calling to the faraway towns” the gig is up and running with evident energy from both band and audience on a hot sweaty July night. The band then blast through Clash City Rockers and Career Opportunities; Joe and Mick are fired up, there’s more energy and edge than Leicester.
Mick’s effects begin the Woop, woop, woop siren start on The Call Up and the audience’s “Hup 2-3-4” to just Joe’s rhythm ends the song. White Man in Hammersmith Palais is again a standout on this tour. The audience around the taper audibly very lively; too lively in one respect for Joe and after Should I Stay he says sarcastically “ I know it sounds funny but I don’t actually enjoy getting gobbed on , do you understand me? Peculiar isn’t it…anyway this is written by Junior Murvin and Lee Perry” An unexceptional Police and Thieves has some tape fluctuations at the start with the now usual bass drop out dub section clear after which it builds slowly, over which Joe adlibs a little but mostly unclear.
Rock The Casbah has plenty of energy but there’s too much in the audience and after 40 second Janie Jones at fear for the safety of the audience from pushing. Mick appeals “Don’t panic” and Joe adds “Take 2 steps back immediately, don’t shove” After a pause to let things cool down Joe continues “Hey listen there’s no risk , you stay cool and we’ll get this underway. OK OK just one more thing, down by your feet there some bits of wood with nails sticking out of it what about under your feet? That’s OK . I forgot to introduce to you all Mr Terry Chimes and the band reprise in full Janie Jones. At the end Joe is angry “Some of you haven’t got the message, the thing is right, I’m trying to sing a song here. Hey Jackson let’s see if the lights work, someone down here spits in your face, why don’t you try sucking your own arsehole!” after which Mick begins the intro to a fine if unexceptional Somebody Got Murdered.
An edit in Bankrobber loses two thirds of the song restarting at start of a strong Magnificent Seven. Wrong Em Boyo next and it’s clearly underneath the sound deficiencies a good gig with the band feeding off the energy and the chaos in the audience. Further evidence is the longer than usual, 26 song set. A fired up Mick belts out Police On My Back. There’s a further edit into the beginning of Radio Clash, played faster than usual with an impressive improvised instrumental ending with Mick adding guitar licks and effects. A screamed 1-2-3-4 from Mick herald the usual set closer, Clampdown, the band tight and focussed, Joe adding some adlibs over the final section.
Brand New Cadillac unusually starts the first encore (Armagideon Time or Ghetto Defendant had though before been dropped from the start of the first encore before) Mick starts then Joe says “Are you ready for the drums here this is the beat here then bangs out the rhythm on his guitar before Terry comes in on the drums proper. A fine performance followed by the now regular Stay Free and then I Fought The Law. The encore ends with Complete Control; passionate and effective.
The second encore begins almost always on this tour with Straight To Hell and continues with the audience’s clear approval with “I’m going home to my Safe European Home” The gig ends with the usual Garageland; not a great recording but it does document the energy and atmosphere of the audience on what for many was a truly memorable and inspiring night.
Any further info/reviews appreciated