Sunday 15 January 2023
Words – Geoff Jenke
Photos – Robert McArthur
Mick Jones saw the Sex Pistols play in 1976 and knew immediately what he wanted to do. Form a band and be like them. The Sex Pistols may well be the most famous of the Punk bands that came out of England in the mid 1970’s, but it has been The Clash’s music that endured over the last 50 odd years.
With The Clash no longer with us, London Calling initially formed for a one-off charity gig on the anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death. Realising the popularity of this gig, they decided to take it a bit more seriously and have been touring the world ever since.
It was a good crowd at The Gov to see London Calling recreate the sound and style of The Clash. 2023 is starting well for live music.
First up we had local band Fistful of Trojans entertain us with their take on ska/reggae/rock with a slight hint of rockabilly. They have been around for quite awhile now, but always put on a good show with their tight melodies. Boss Man got the crowd moving, including some very young people down the front while That Thing We All Do came across as a blues reggae sounding song. If you get the chance to catch them at some stage, do so.
With the theme from the movie The Good the Bad and the Ugly echoing around The Gov, London Calling members walked on stage and plugged in. With a “great to be back at the Gov” and a “This is a Public Service announcement, with guitars” the band launched in the a salvo of Clash classics, Know Your Rights, The Magnificent 7, Safe European Home and Tommy Gun.
“We need to slow tings down after that” commented Reg Shaw (Lead Guitar, vocals). They played Police and Thieves and while the start may have been slow, it was hardly a ballad. The audience down the front was a mixture of young and, well, slightly older people. There was a crowd of about a dozen really young people, predominantly female, dancing (moshing?) hard. The Clash’s music certainly is still popular.
All Clash albums got a fair representation except the final LP, Cut the Crap. Clampdown, Death or Glory, Police on my Back and Rudie Can’t Fail all came out early. The energy the band presented was amazing. Joe Guatieri’s bass playing was probably the most hectic playing I have ever seen.
The hit’s and classic songs kept coming during the second half with Train in Vain, Should I Stay or Should I Go and despite an early call from the audience for I Fought the Law meeting with a “We don’t do requests” response from Reg, it was played late in the set.
The reggae Bank Robber with audience participation in the chorus, was the night highlight, along with the 1978 single, (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais. What great songs and handled perfectly by London Calling.
Encore was Rock the Casbah, the epic London Calling and then going back to The Clash’s first single White Riot for a fiery ending to the show.
I have seen quite a few “tribute” bands over the last 5 years, but I realized after the show, this is probably the first I have seen where I haven’t actually seen the original band.
Does anyone have a Time Machine to transport me back to 1979 so I can remedy this?