Supported by Pete Singh, Rev. Gary Jones & Keith Allen
updated 22 May 2015 - full review and new tape
cdr -above average sound - Sound 3 - 64min - bc/m - tracks 20
Cdr good sound master? sound 4 92 mins tracks 24
Essential: Mick’s last UK Clash gig, gobbing and resulting Strummer violence, a hot sweaty packed Locarno atmosphere, a classic Strummer rant tribute to Enid Blyton, quality recordings of a memorable gig and to top it all a Sikh Elvis impersonator from Swansea! What more could anyone want!
Joe had a bad cold but you would hardly know it, he is in top vocal form producing a lengthy adlib in an 8 minute Magnificent Seven about Noddy and Big Ear’s trials and tribulations at the Toytown disco. Not sure what medicine he was taking for his cold!
Two audience recordings circulate; one is complete and also has the better soun and is really worth seeking out not just because it documents Mick’s last UK Clash gig but that it captures the band on top form and confirms that Mick’s guitar playing was still vital and inventive (still playing variations on solos, fills etc) with no evidence of the tired phoned in performances that feature in some of the gigs on the crazily too soon to follow second US tour in a year.
The support acts tonight were memorable too for different reasons. Whilst nothing seems to be known about who or what the Reverend Gary Jones act was we know more about Pete Singh thanks to this link, which goes onto to include a lengthy break due to spitting/gobbing and Joe’s reaction; http://clash.wikia.com/wiki/August_3_Bristol_Locarno_Ballroom
Peter Singh and The Clash
I remember the support act was a Sikh guy from Swansea billed as 'Peter Singh - The Indian Elvis'. I had seen him on afternoon TV a few weeks before and his schtick was to sing Elvis and Cliff Richard numbers and a few comic originals while dressed in a Vegas-period Presley white rhinestone jumpsuit, which he topped off with a matching white turban. The effect was a mildly amusing parody and in keeping with The Clash's liking for eclectic support acts,
Unfortunately this was the last gig of the tour and Peter had clearly over-celebrated at the end-of-term party. Stumbling drunkenly onto the stage he was unable to complete any more than a few lines of any song without falling over or collapsing into fits of drunken laughter. I remember him falling onto the drum kit and being unable to raise himself. After 10 minutes or so and a few attempts at singing 'Living Doll' he eventually gave up and retreated to the sanctuary of the dressing room. We took it in good part although it was pretty unprofessional.
After an extended break, The Clash took the stage, crashing into their opening numbers with their customary exuberance. I hadn't seen them before, or particularly been a fan, but remember being impressed with the sheer passion with which they attacked each song. The gig finally gained some momentum but unfortunately this stuttered to a halt after half-a-dozen numbers or so...
There had clearly been some kind of incident at the front of the stage as Strummer was angrily bellowing into the crowd. I remember Mick Jones, his pencil-slim legs completed by a pair of Dr Marten boots, running across to aim an exaggerated kick at some transgressor in the front row, accompanied by much pointing and shouting. With that, the band downed their instruments and left the stage.
The Bristolian crowd were unimpressed. A sell-out crowd (I myself viewed the gig from about four or five human layers back on the upstairs balcony) had now been deprived of both a proper support artist and now the main act. There was some booing and catcalling, and the mood darkened on what was a hot, clammy summer evening in the airless environment of The Locarno.
Fortunately after about 20 minutes the band were enticed back to the stage with an explanation. Strummer mumbled that he had been spat upon and that this had only happened twice on the tour, at Brighton a few days before and then Bristol.
…It was the only Clash gig I ever saw, and despite everything, it was a cracker. I'm glad to have been there for a tiny slice of history, and even after 30 years my memories of the night are clear and positive.
The recordings clarify this somewhat as the band only walked off at the end of I Fought The Law which may have been the final song of the main set anyway An altercation can be heard mid song (see The Gig below) and the band leave the stage. For how long is not clear because there are edits in both recordings but we can conclude that Joe lashed out at someone in the audience spitting as he explains “Sorry about that little display of temper there … this is the last night of a long tour you know. I think there’s only two towns that we haven’t been spat on, one was Bristol last night, couple there but nothing much, and the other I think before was Brighton, even at Brixton they’re spitting at us.”
Comedian Keith Allen was also part of the support in line with the eclectic Casbah Club theme. See link for interview below with Keith who writes of his association with Joe which went right back to the early 70’s in west London squats and the 101’ers. He also writes about how Joe may have been the catalyst in getting Lily Allen into a singing career; ‘Joe was asked to perform at a charity show and he said, 'Look, I want to do the new version of White Riot. Can you get a load of kids to come on stage and sing the chorus?' I got my daughter, Lily, my son, Alfie - they were about 14 and 15 at the time - and some of their mates involved, but Lily was the only one who actually turned up on the night.
Up until that moment, she had never shown the slightest interest in singing or performing, but she absolutely loved it. And Joe loved it so much that he came up to us after the show and said, 'My band is supporting the Who at Wembley Arena in a couple of weeks, and I want Lily on stage with me.' So her second ever performance was in front of 15,000 people’.
Jean Encoule at http://www.trakmarx.com/2003_05/140.htm provides further memories of this gig ‘As well as Mikey Dread, the group were also supported by an Asian Elvis impersonator called Elvis Patel. When The Clash hit the stage we were just in front of the mixing desk the crowd went absolutely ape shit pogoing en masse - & making the dance floor bounce in the process. I swear to God that for a good 5 minutes we were absolutely convinced that the movement from the floor was going to bring the PA stacks crashing down from the stage onto the front rows of the audience. John was utterly blown away a decade or so older than Jen or I it was his first belated interface with that thing the papers called Punk Rock. He looked like an excited little kid at his first gig - rather than the experienced veteran of 60s counterculture that he in fact was. Jen & I seemed to enjoy the gig even more than Bingley Hall maybe because John enjoyed it so much maybe because it was the last time we ever saw Mick Jones & Joe Strummer on the same stage together (although we didn’t know that at the time)’.
Previous Clash gigs in Bristol had been at the Colston Hall and the University but they had played the Locarno ballroom previously in 1978.
The Locarno Ballroom was demolished in 1998 but was originally part of Mecca Leisure Group's New Entertainments Centre and ABC Cinema. Opening in 1966, it included a dozen licensed bars, an ice rink, bowling lanes, the Craywood Club casino, a night club, a grand cinema and the 2,000-capacity Locarno ballroom with an illuminated ceiling. Only the ice-rink and the cinema survived, the rest being demolished in 1998 and subsequently the site given over to student accommodation. The cinema closed in 1996 and was converted into a nightclub in 2000, originally called Rock, and now is 02 Academy Bristol.
Two different audience recordings circulate of this gig.
The first and most widely circulated is incomplete ending after Safe European Home. It is of an unknown generation and poorer versions do circulate which can be identified by significant distortion on the Morricone intro music. The best version is probably one analogue copy off the master which would have been an above average audience recording back in the day. Instrumentation is clear as are vocals although suffer inevitably from distance from taper to stage.
The second source is complete with all of the second encore of 18 minutes/4 songs and is a very enjoyable listen indeed. It sounds very much like the master recording; a big thank you to Gabriela for bringing it into circulation. An improvement in sound quality to the first source (especially after the first few songs) to these ears having more clarity and detail but both sources capture the Clash sound well with guitars clear and prominent. Bass there on both but a little flat and unfocussed.
Both sources include the intro music before Joe announces in a tired voice, he was suffering from a cold; “Thank you very much, good evening and welcome to you all, thank you to Pete Singh, Reverend Gary Jones and Keith Allen“[future England’s Irie co-vocalist and friend] This is London Calling to the faraway towns” Lead guitar is not as up front in the mix on the first few songs on the complete source. “War is dee- clared” sings Joe; his vocals a little distant.
Mick shouts “1-2 a 1-2-3-4” and the band slam into White Man in Hammersmith Palais; sounds fine on both sources, the band tight and focussed. Joe adlibs a little over the extended ending. Brand New Cadillac sounds great the band warming up and responding to the hot sweaty Locarno audience rammed up against the stage.
The taper of the complete source during The Leader presumably moves position as the sound is notch better by the end and from here in has clearly the best sound of the two. “You’ll have to excuse me I’ve caught a cold in here last night along with a few other people. This is called Rrrrrights” and the band crash into One More Time; sounds great - the two guitar interplay on the “play music” section the highlight, shame the song does not get an extended treatment.
“Mr Paul Simonon on my left in the blue corner” Micks great guitar fills on Guns of Brixton very clear and powerful. Mick’s Train In Vain next an echo effect on his vocals before the final coda, both guitars clear. Joe; “Yeah we got any other requests? First ones up, ..I’m afraid we don’t know at the videotech [?] suggest you’re at the wrong room!” Wrong Em Boyo a highlight like the night before “breaks start all over again” the band pause to emphasise the change into the ska rhythm, the band tight stretch out, enjoying themselves.
“The following is a public service announcement avec guitarro” lots of echo on Joe’s vocals on Know Your Rights but a little too distant but Mick’s guitar clear and strong. A very enjoyable Bankrobber (no Mikey Dread, if he was support as suggested would have appeared here or on Armagideon Time?) comes to an end but Mick continues to play the melody alone and Joe comes back with an improvised adlib verse which does namecheck Mikey Dread.
“Murder in the towns, murder in the valley, murder in the back” says Joe over Micks’ intro to Somebody Got Murdered. The sound quality, bringing out the twin guitar Clash attack makes the quality of these performances shine through. After a long pause and audience shouts Joe says “I don’t know what’s next. Yes incidentally actually I’ve just remembered we must do the Ayatollah Khomeini’s favourite 12” record. I think he’s sent over for a crate of these! Keep the fundamentalists..” Terry interrupts the band ripping through Rock The Casbah; Mick and Joe belting out the vocals.
There is an edit on the incomplete source only at the start of a truly exceptional Magnificent Seven missing Joe’s “Don’t you ever stop get your car outta that gear…” . This 8 minute version begins with an instrumental first 50 seconds before Joe begins the first verse; the reason it would appear from Joe, of a guitar malfunction but clearly soon fixed as both guitars and bass are clear. Joe gets more into it as the song goes on, despite the effects of his cold he’s in great voice/vocal form and goes into a lengthy adlib after the “guitar city” instrumental bridge; “now the golden goose has laid an egg, looks like the golden goose has laid 2 eggs! Mick lays his guitar fills and effects over Joe’s cries and wails very enjoyably before Joe continues “Meanwhile- I’ll wait for the break to come around, [to continue theme] alright I’d just like to take the scene over to Toytown! (guitars and rhythm section combining brilliantly) Noddy phoned up Big Ears and he said hey why don’t we go down to the latest disco in Toytown called Stinky Toys [he French punk band jumping into his stream of consciousness!] so Noddy said come on Big Ears put on that satin lurex jumpsuit and keep on that Cisco hat and we’ll go down to Toytown and we’ll stomp those Toytown flat! Big Ears says sure Noddy and they went down to the door and the bouncers said look buddy you ain’t coming in here with those boots on, get ‘em off! and Noddy says these boots man these are the cute?? boots, I don’t care take’ em off. Noddy takes his boots off, meanwhile Big Ears underneath his hat he ain’t got no hair! He’s wearing braces and Red Tag Levi’s and a shirt from Brutus ooooh! You can’t get in…? so they go the bar, what you want? Noddy says I’ll have 8 pints please and both drink 8 pints and go on the dance floor…Anyway they’re walking down the street completely out of their minds up come two panda bears in a little paddy wagon, here come those two panda bears up in that little panda wagon this is what they were singing” sings/wails like a Police siren wooooh, wooooh, wooooh then shouts a final repeated “Magnificent” before Terry brings a very memorable performance to a fairly abrupt end.
After a pause Joe says, “OK this is a number commissioned by the Department of Trade in Unemployment. They gave us 10 quid for this number” Mick screams out “1-2-3-4” and the band slam through Career Opportunities; full of energy, sounds great. “This is written by Mr Eddy Grant” Mick’s lead guitar clear and powerful on Police On My Back, the break down instrumental section as usual the most memorable/exciting part.
Next it’s straight into I Fought The Law; Terry tonight even pulling off the crescendo intro, just! Near the end someone(s) spitting and Mick shouts abuse, then just Terry on drums for a few bars and you can hear Joe rage “Oh Tarzan, what a he man, I’m so scared , going home to mummy are we!” at someone he has attacked from the stage. Mick alone continues singing “I Fought The Law” till the end of the song.
Incomplete source continues for minutes with crowd shouting for more, reportedly a very long gap before the band come back, the audience are shouting “why are we waiting” but an edit means impossible to know for how long. The complete source has an edit earlier but restarts before the band eventually return to cheers. Joe explains “Sorry about that little display of temper there but let’s try to get back into it.[cheers] This is the last night of a long tour you know. I think there’s only two towns that we haven’t been spat on, one was Bristol last night, couple there but nothing much, and the other I think before was Brighton, even at Brixton they’re spitting at us! So we’ll try and get back into it” The band slam into Janie Jones followed by a stripped down but very effective Armagideon Time stripped down including a Joe adlib “a lot of newspapers print a lie tonight, a lot of people read the lie tonight, strike a match, give us power, find yourself right in the middle of it, the battle is getting harder” Should I Stay or Should I Go is followed by a fine if unexceptional Safe European Home and the band leave the stage.
The incomplete source ends here losing a memorable second encore. Thankfully the complete source continues with the audience clapping and stomping for more then Terry’s bass drum repeated thumps and the band perform an excellent sounding Straight To Hell. At the end of the verses Joe says “play rock steady” encouraging Mick’s inventive lead playing to continue. No sign in disinterest from Mick on this tour in playing guitar, indeed his playing contributes greatly to their enjoyment.
Amid shouts, Joe says “Yes you’re requests?” Repeated shouts for Stay Free to Joe’s chagrin no doubt! Mick steps up and performs his Stay Free; also sounds great particularly the final instrumental coda despite some distortion.
Then it’s a further definite highlight, a second Pressure Drop played the night before after a break in performing since June 1981 at Bonds. It sounds much better than night because of the improved sound quality but because the band are tighter too. Mick plays a great solo and then the band drop it down to drum and bass with the “you’re gonna feel it” attack sounding particularly great. Fittingly perhaps the last song is Mick’s Complete Control, playing another variation on his solo (showing the invention his two successor’s would largely fail to achieve and why collecting Clash recordings is not a rehash of the same arrangements and playing note for note of many other bands, e.g. The Jam). The band rip it up over the finale and leave the stage; Mick Jones would sadly never again torch up a UK stage and audience in the Clash but this gig and recording make a fitting farewell.
NME May 1982 & US newspaper
Strummer in the City
Clash Dream On
Sounds - May 82
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