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Saturday 4 February 2023

Saturday Live

The Clash live at Le Palace in Paris, 27th February 1980, a one off gig specially arranged for French TV, a programme produced by  the legendary Antoine de Caunes- from The Clash to Eurotrash. The opening sequence and titles for the French TV programme Chorus are worth watching in themselves, rapid fire animation, scratching and cut and paste snatches of punk and reggae songs, all so 1980 it's like the last forty three years haven't happened. Then blamm! Joe and the boys power into Koka Kola, Joe in fine voice and Mick's guitar squealing over the heavyweight rumble of bass and drums, with Mickey Gallagher's keyboards, stage right behind Paul.Without a pause they steam into I Fought The Law and they sound great, thrillingly alive and on it. London Calling was at this point a new release, it came out just two months previously and the songs were new and fresh. 

Joe's pidgeon French patter between songs, a brief bit of respite from playing at one thousand miles an hour, is fun- 'maintenant, woaghaghwoa' he says, introducing Spanish Bombs, and then, 'very good, tres bien mes amis, fuckin' tres bien... maintenant Wrong 'Em Boyo mate'. The French crowd are understandably enthusiastic, crammed right up against the lip of the stage, no barriers or photographer's pit in 1980. 

It goes without saying that a band is only as good as it's drummer. Topper here is, as Sandy Pearlman said, a human drum machine. The front three, the Best, Law and Charlton of punk, step back and forth from the mics, instinctively doing vox and backing vox, switching places, Mick going centre stage for Stay Free, Paul leather trousers and splayed legs, Fender Precision bass worn low. They knew exactly when to gather together and when to step apart.

Janie Jones takes everyone back to 1977 and is followed by Topper's drum intro to a white hot Complete Control, then Garageland and Tommy Gun. The set here, half an hour long for French TV, is a truncated version of the full gig. It's been released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand but not here (as far as I know). There were four songs played that night that precede the ones played above- Jimmy Jazz, London Calling, Protex Blue and Train In Vain, but they don't seem to be Youtube at the moment. It doesn't really matter, the nine we have here are the real thing (and in many ways better than the official Clash live recordings available over the years. The Shea Stadium CD was OK but was post- Topper and Westway To The World was a live compilation recorded at various gigs between 1977 and 1983 with some great performances and recordings but not one single night with the band). Watch this for half an hour today and marvel- this band once existed in real time, playing these gigs in real life to paying customers for a couple of quid (or the 20 francs it cost get into the Le Palace that night).


Charity Chic said...

The Best,Law and Charlton of Punk.

JC said...

Never seen this. And can't wait to watch it based on this incredible review.

One, perhaps, for a late evening these next few days when I'm resting and relaxing of an evening in a clean, comfortable and affordable hotel in a city in the north-west of England.

Tom W said...

I had a boss once who was a massive Clash fan, and he said getting into the venue and seeing those three mics lined up was an incredible feeling even while the place was empty.