Joe, Buddy, Go
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Accademy, B'ham - 20/11/01
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros bring it all back home some with their particular brand of folk/world/punk?rock/busking/tribute/experience. Back in the nation's second city for the first time since The Latino Rockabilly Wars, they end up coming on like a marginally less pompous Billy Bragg @ a preaching to the converted conference. Dragging John Cooper Clarke along with them by his rat's nest hair, it looked a good nostalgia ticket on paper.
JCC was fuckin funny; "When I die I wanna go peacefully in my sleep like my unkle Barney, not skreaming in terror like his passengers". God, he looked older than, erm, God. The last time I saw hairspray working so hard under difficult circumstances, Martin Degville's mowhawk was 6ft tall. We got three (count em) poems, a few non rhyming limericks & several very funny observations; "Has anyone of you ever seen a Chinese person park their car, walk up their drive, slip a key into a Yale & actually go into a house? Nor me. Where do they all live?" He's joined on stage by a couple of Mescaleros for a stroll down "Beasley Street" & he's off. Sadly breif, coulda done with more.
Joe's boys appeared in suits & the smart money was on adult entertainment from the off. The Mescaleros were ok (but only that), lacking the depth & range of the previous line up. The drums were tight enuff, the bass spot-on, the 4 strong backing vocals added emphasis & power where needed, but both gtr-ists were shit (possibly in some wierd inverted compliment to the traditionally wayward live gtr of Mick Jones). Joe rocked hard, he never stopped trying, he gave good VFM & entertained like the trooper he is (even though he does take himself a wee bit too seriously for someone his age). He seems to have finally reached that 101'ers workaday busktastic 1973 vibe & it's all his own work. Clash tunes were mostly resticted to cover vershuns - Police & Thieves, Pressure Drop, Armagideon Time, I Fought The Law, Junco Pardner, Police On My Back - dunno why, maybe Mick said use yer own tunes, maaaaaaaan. We stood too near to the speakers for the entire set & consequently carnt hear a fuckin thing anymore. Highlite; a venomous London's Burning & an amusing romp thru Blitzkrieg Bop (complete with gtr breaks that were not strictly required).
The most frightening sight of the night were the greying, portly 40 somethings rushing back to the mosh pit everytime a Clash tune was aired & wheezingly retiring back to the wings for the more fiddle drenched numbers. At this point it's probably worth mentioning that there was way to much fuckin fiddlin going down & after 30 minutes we were hoping Tymon Dogg was gonna sprain his ankle or something & give the kids a chance to murder some more appalling lead "breaks". We couldn't even be bothered to shout; "Smiley Culture - where's the Heathrow Massive now?", but we could see why Joe wanted to move on down the road, back to where he came from all those years ago, before being sold the concept of year zero. Maybe he'll change his name back to Woody again, maybe he'll tour with Billy Bragg, maybe he'll stand for election in Bridgewater, maybe he'll end up playing weddings, parties, anything - bongo jives a speciality. White riot, I wanna riot, in a supper basket, with fries & plenty of vinegar, Joe.
When the past is as tastefully packaged & presented as this, there's nothing left to do but box it up, put in in the back of the cupboard & confine it to history. Hey Joe, where you going with that bus pass in yer hand?
Jean Aramis Encoule - Nov - 2001 - trakMARX.com