Nottingham Rock City 18-10-99
Twenty years ago a support act as bland as Little Mothers would have surely been bottled off the stage before the end of their first song. But tonight it seems that time has taken its toll, the fire that once scorched a hole through the blubbering gut of the music industry has long since burnt itself out and it appears that not only must we tolerate such monotony, we must also applaud it.
So by the time Strummer and his Mescaleros adorn the stage anything is going to sound good. Strummer, looking very well fed these days, begins by attempting, without much success, to turn the social order of the gig on its head by getting the tall people to stand at the back so the short ones can see. They kick off the musical festivities with a couple of Strummer’s solo numbers which induce minimal exertion from the crowd. The third song ‘Rock The Casbah’, which is dedicated to ex-Clash drummer Topper Headon, is the first to provoke a frenzied reaction. The rest of the set roughly comprises of fifty per cent Clash songs, which continue to be the only thing to inject energy into the audience… It does appear that most people are here for the same reason, to see if Strummer can still breathe life into some old Clash tunes, and he doesn’t disappoint, even if some of the potency has been lost with old age, as he runs through such classics as ‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’ and ‘Tommy Gun’. That’s not to say that Strummer has lost the ability to write a good rock’n’roll ditty. ‘Road To Rock’N’Roll’ stands up well next to most of his older material even if it doesn’t quite instil the same passion in the crowd as ‘London Calling’ does.
As for the question of whether the Clash will ever reform, maybe we were given an idea as to the current status of the relationship between Strummer and Jones when Strummer quipped, “nobody told me that Mick Jones was here tonight,” after a blow up doll, thrown from the crowd, hit him straight in the face and landed at his feet.
Picture: Maxine Silcock
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