Photo: Bob Gruen
Using a silent video (from 8 mm film footage) uploaded to Vimeo by Ruby Max Fury, Clash fans synched audio from bootleg recordings to the film to re-create a sense of what it was like on the night of September 21, 1979 when the The Clash invaded New York City. The second night of a two night stand at The Palladium, this was the show where Paul Simonon made rock history when he smashed his guitar to the stage and Pennie Smith took the iconic photo that graced the cover of London Calling.
In February of ‘79, I was in the audience for The Clash’s NYC debut. Standing in the swaying balcony and watching the The Clash pummel and strafe the audience with rock so hard you could feel it in your guts, I knew instantaneously I was witnessing a band for the ages. If there had been any doubt that punk bands could play their instruments, The Clash crushed that myth beneath a barrage of tight visceral beats and lacerating guitars. It was epic. And it was very very good.
Writer Tom Carson described The Clash live sound beautifully:
The musicians’ confidence was evident at every turn. Lead guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon leaped around as if no stage could hold them; Nicky Headon’s drums cracked through the music with the authority of machine-gun fire. The group’s perfect ensemble timing - the two guitars locking horns above the percussion; the way Jones’ ethereal, incantatory backup vocals filled the gaps in Joe Strummer’s harsh leads - went beyond mere technical mastery; it was audible symbols of the band’s communal instinct.
A sublime slice of rock history.