The Clash at a Pakistani cinema, Harlesden, London, March 1977

Oh yeah, I forgot about the fuzz. Must have been a dozen sitting in that wagon outside the flick palace. Haste disposal unit. Just checking. Routine.

They don’t come much stranger, venue that is. A Pakistani cinema, Harlesden, West London. Hired for the night to enhance the reputations of The Slits (all girl band), Subway Sect, Buzzcocks and The Clash, the last hailed by people in the know as kings of the current wildfire.

The fuss is justified.

Sabu Joe Strummer: “This is a Pakistani exercise” he yelled at the start. “What black muslim pulled my cord out?” he asked in the middle, when the band was plagued by technical phantoms. “The weekend starts ‘ere”, he screamed at the end.

Think of John Lennon 15 years ago with St Vitus Dance. That’s Joe. Quick-fire guitarist. Cut-throat vocalist viz ‘London’s Burning’ and debut single ‘White Riot’.

Sahib Mick Jones: definitive new wave guitarist. A chimera sculpturing a number of different influences e.g. Wilko Johnson movements at the speed of sound, into his own likeness. Breathtaking, bitter, biting – ‘Cheat Cheat Cheat’ (apologies to The Damned), ‘Opportunity’ and ‘Gary’s Home’. oh, he can sing too.

Cobra Paul Simonon: a bassist who looks like a front man. Bullet bass sound that fits nicely into the colt chamber formed by the rest of the band. Just pull the trigger. You’ll see what I mean.

Turban Terry Chimes: Oh – so – serious drummer with the Mount Rushmore expression. Competent, non-aggressive stance.

And as the three of four hundred punkers filed out, kung fu films somersaulted across the screen. The old bill needn’t have bothered. White riot lapsed into a black NW10 night.

(Record Mirror, 19/03/77)

Leave a Reply