W3 Hosts Fifth Anniversary of Joe Strummer's Death

Two reviews of last week's concert in Acton Town Hall

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Two ActonW3.com subscribers were lucky enough to get tickets (both via W3 or W4 discussion Forums) to last week's historic concert and give us their views below:

First, Penny Flood gave us her unique slant on the proceedings:

"The Joe Strummer benefit concert had all it takes to be a fantastic gig but poor planning turned it into two gigs separated by an hour of dire music and incompetence.

"This was a pity because the event was the fifth anniversary of Joe’s last London gig, right there in Acton Town Hall, just weeks before he died. Joe's final gig was to support the fireman’s strike and last night’s gig was to commemorate that.

"The Clash tribute band was great (although it didn’t feature Mick Jones as advertised) and Billy Bragg was great and the evening would have been really great had they been gelled into one concert. As it was we had to wait an hour between the two acts by which time there were a lot of people messing about on the stage.

"However, that aside, how was the music? The Joe Strummer tribute music was marvellous. They opened with 'London Calling' and went right the repertoire including, of course, 'I Fought The Law (And The Law Won)'.

"Were we pogo-ing? Not quite, rheumatics, creaky knees and bad backs have taken their toll but we baby boomers and children of baby boomers still managed to bob up and down a bit.

"They played for about an hour with all the raw energy and excitement you’d expect of the Clash. The original Clash drummer, Topper Headon was one of the band.

"Billy Bragg should have followed but he didn’t. He was there, walking around in the audience but it was going to be a long time before he went on stage.

"Instead, we were treated to Tymon Dogg, who played several instruments badly and didn’t sing very well. However, for a while he played to a largely empty hall as the word got out that Mick Jones was in the loo and two thirds of the audience rushed downstairs to get his autograph, take his picture or just stare. He was remarkably good-natured for a man who’d been mobbed while just stepping out for a pee.

"Billy Bragg came on stage after 11 and was he worth the wait? Of course he was, treating us to his great numbers and blowing us away with a song about how we will beat the fascists. As well as performing, Billy was there to raise money for his campaign ‘Jail Guitar Doors’ which aims to put guitars in prisons in memory Joe Strummer.

"Then Billy shared with us the moment when his life was changed, when as a downtrodden office junior he went to the Rock Against Racism Concert in Victoria Park and heard Joe Strummer and the Clash. That was the moment when he realised that you can stand up to racist, homophobic bullies, and the rest is history.

"We’ve got a lot to thank Joe Strummer for and Billy Bragg is not the least of them."

Martin Hayes, the lucky purchase of the editor's reluctantly relinquished tickets evidently enjoyed his evening in Acton Town Hall:

"The self-styled Big nosed Bard from Barking Essex graced Acton with his presence in an emotional night to pay tribute to legendary Clash front man Joe Strummer who died 5 years ago this December. This concert marked the anniversary of Strummer's last London performance where along with the Mescaleros he played a benefit gig in aid of striking fireman.

"First support for the evening came in the form of Clash tribute band Take the 5th who treated the crowd to an hour of faithful reproductions of Clash classics which included amongst others 'London Calling', 'White Riot', 'Clash City Rockers', 'Bank Robber', 'White Man in Hammersmith Palais' and 'I Fought The Law (and the Law won)'. This was followed by long-time friend/mentor/collaborator of Strummer, Tymon Dogg. The ex Mescalero served up what can only be described as a punk folk extravaganza with some of the finest fiddle playing ever seen.

"Prior to Billy taking the stage, FBU representatives presented photos of the Firefighters benefit gig to Tymon and also Clash legend Mick Jones who both performed that night with Strummer (in Mick Jones' case the first time he and Strummer had played together in 20 years).

"Billy Bragg cites the Clash Rock against Racism show in Victoria park in 1978 as the moment his life changed and he took his first steps in trying to make a difference in the world. Nearly 30 years later the hair might be a bit greyer and thinner but the passion and beliefs are still strong as ever with a call issued to all to stand up against racism, sexism and homophobia, and not let Joe Strummer's legacy go to waste.

"The set opened on a high with 'Help Save The Youth of America' (which seems just as appropriate today as it did when written in 1986) and went on to include other Bragg classics such as, 'To Have and Have not', 'World Turned Upside Down', 'Saturday Boy' (with trumpet solo replaced by 7 Nation army/Smoke on the Water), 'England Half English', and 'There is Power in the Union'.

"Amongst all of this there was chance for Billy to talk about his Jail Guitar Doors project. He and Mick Jones are trying to help prisoner rehabilitation through music by providing guitars for inmates to play. To mark this a cover was played of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song' and his latest recording 'Old Clash Fan Fight', the proceeds of which go towards this project and have already paid for guitars going to prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs.

"The main set ended with a good crowd singalong to' New England' which was dedicated to the late Kirsty Mccall."

"To bring the evening to an outstanding close Billy was joined on stage by all of the evening's performers, Mick Jones, Richard Archer from Hard Fi, ex Specials Jerry Dammers, what seemed like half of the FBU and the lucky winner of the evening's raffle to perform Clash classic

"A great night in what turned out to be a surprisingly good venue right on our doorsteps!"

November 21, 2007