Justice Tonight – Day 4: London Calling …
Punk is the most indefinable of musical forms, it set us all off on this crazy path years ago. Punk means so many different things to so many different people but where there was a naivety and random violence we now have camaraderie and community. All the veterans of the punk rock wars welcome eachother with gigantic bear hugs, we have lost too many people to be all reserved and British about things now. We know that the hippies were right about love, every newcomer to this traveling circus gets the same welcome, whether it’s Richard Archer, the sharp young singer from Hard Fi who delivers a great Clampdown sung as sharp as his excellent white winkle packers.
Tonights set is long and sprawling, Train in Vain, Stay Free, Bankrobber, Clampdown, White Man (in Hammersmith Palais) – with Peter Hooton delivering a great vocal with help from the whole audience, Should I stay or should I go – should have been Rex from the Rotten Hill Gang taking the lead but he forgot the words so Hooton and Wylie step in.
And it’s when the bands swop from the Farm/Wylie/Jones set up to the Simonon/Primal Scream/Jones line up that things kick off with a visceral, feral run throughthe Primals Rocks Off, followed by a stomping Jail Guitar Doors, then the brilliant Brand New Cadillac before Paul puts his bass down for Guns of Brixton before exit for the Farm/Wylie/Jones line up return for Armagideon Time, a shout goes out for Don Letts to join them on the stage but he has already gone to the decks for DJ duty.
They end with London Calling, without Paul on bass. The room is in meltdown. The next few days see the Internet full of talk of ‘gig of our lives’. And that ain’t no exaggeration.
The encore is Janie Jones and All Together Now and then BAD’s Rush.
Thats the facts and they are worth noting, the details though are…
Guns of Brixton, which was last played in those Good The Bad And The Queen warm up dates a few years ago is played in its perfect context. Paul puts down his bass and steps up to the mic, hands in pockets, skanking to the song’s perfect groove. The crowd is awash with grins, this was a lot more than most people bargained for and the songs defiant words strike a chord with the context of what the gig is about. Jonesy does that foot shuffle thing, a Chuck Berry duck walk but his own version, he’s got his grin on, even managing to out grin the crowd.
After London Calling and before the encore, MP Tom Watson takes he stage for a speech, it’s a stripped down anti Murdoch haiku- powerful, emotional and stripped away of all baggage. This is a punk rock speech and the man who brought down the Murdochs is greeted like a hero. His powerful rhetoric willing on the end of the media empire.
I strip down and leap into the frey for the encore of Janie Jones, Mick Jones dedicating the song to Louder Than War and another of our fellow websites Sabotage Times and there’s a real feeling of unity in the air, that feeling that we are all doing our bit, none of us claiming to be experts, just trying to scratch something a bit more humane out of the world that can sometimes be so brutal.
Jane Jones sounds amazing, and I grab the mic and go, I’m pulled into the crown and in a blur of hands, faces, heads and wild eyes I try and sing, it’s a brilliant moment, sorry if I hurt anyone!
The set ends with a mass version of the Farm’s All Together Now, which Mick introduces saying that it sums up the whole tour. The song’s simple yet powerful emotional tug hits a deep chord and the room is transformed into a terrace from the seventies when you were allowed to mingle in ssty camadsrie in death trap stadiums. They are called back for one more tune and play BAD’s Rush, a reminder of Mick’s current main project who are working on an album right now.
Post show the atmosphere is euphoria, Bobby is glowing, Primal Scream have restated their power as one of the great rock n roll bands even without comrade Mani whilst Mick tells me some great stories glowing with that warmth that has been the theme of the tour.
Can rock n roll change the world?
It already has mate.