BBCi Manchester gig review
Joe Strummer: Manchester Academy

Joe Strummer once said that it took him 11 years to come to terms that The Clash were history.

Fair dos. But as Joe will tell you, you've got to "dig the new before it digs you," which is what he's certainly done with the Mescaleros.

The new album, Global A Go-Go is a rich gumbo of music from around the world with rich African, Cuban and Latin flavours. But rock 'n' roll
with guitars, drums, and a bass rhythm
it ain't.

Even in his Clash days, Strummer was never afraid to try something new and the mix of reggae-dub, ska and rockabilly influences are what made the Clash sound so durable and intriguing.

I last saw Joe 22 years ago at the Apollo on the Clash's Ten Ton tour at the peak of punk. Like a lot of the ageing rockers in the crowd, I went to the Academy to pay homage to rock 'n' roll's revolutionary freedom fighter... and to see Strummer in his new guise.

I have to say it didn't start well. The opening number Minstrel Boy is deep in folk-rock territory. Tymon Dogg's fiddle was all over it like a rash and it wailed and screeched like a cat being shagged.

And the gig only really took off when Joe let rip with the first Clash number, There was a deafening roar of approval as the guitars kicked in with Rudie Can't Fail. The appreciation didn't go amiss.

What followed was a shrewd mix of the old and the new and the gig got better and better. This wasn't the moment to reach all the way into the back catalogue for the raw anger of White Riot. Cultured Clash tracks prevailed, like Bank Robber, London's Burning and I Fought the Law.

Some of the new material like Bhindi Bhagee, Mondo Bongo and Johnny Appleseed went down well and seemed to win over most of the crowd.

"This one's for anyone who ever bought a pork pie hat," said Joe, introducing the Special's Message to You Rudie and giving a welcome nod to the ska generation.

While the raw majesty of The Clash still runs deep, Joe's Meskey material comes first. It has to because that's where he's going, not where he's been.

That said, Joe doesn't want to turn his back on the guitars just yet.....