Pearl Harbour Tour supported by Bo Diddley & The Dils

Los Angeles Times 12 Feb 79

Clash Specializes in High Energy

For sheer energy, the Clash's local debut Friday night at the sold out Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was one of the most exhilarating rock shows here in years. But rock's not based on energy alone, and the Clash's failure to touch on a wider range of emotions leave its music short at this point of the across-the-board impact of rock's greatest figures.

Still, the British punk/new wave outfit - together just over two years has a commitment and punch on stage that far outdistance most of its high energy rivals. If the band isn't ready yet for the "world's greatest" bouquets being hurled at it in England, it is off to a sensational start.

As in the foursome's Jan. 31 appearance in Vancouver, B.C., the Clash established in its best moments Friday the joyous frenzy that has always been on of rock's prime ingredients.

In keeping with British punk tradition, hard-core fans near the front of the stage took advantage of the evening's festival seating arrangement (no chairs on the main floor) to dance with such abandon that they frequently collided with each other. Some also leaped on the stage, where they were shoved back into the audience (sometimes gently, sometimes not) by the band or security guards.

To an outsider this aggressiveness might have been alarming, but it was mostly harmless. It's simply the kind of emotional release that is at the base of a new wave movement which is trying to wave [sic ] rock from its current lethargy.

Joe Strummer, the band's strongest visual lure on stage, spits out the lyrics with such alarming intensity that a life insurance salesman would think twice about writing him a policy. When he collapsed after one song, it didn't look solely theatrical.

The rest of the group - guitarist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon - frame Strummer's vocals with a relentless buzz-saw attack. It's so torrential that it's hard to pick up more than an occasional lyric, most of which deal with anti-authoritarian themes.

While "Safe European Home", "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A." and "White Riot" are outstanding songs, the music - except for the somewhat nostalgic "Stay Free" - relies on much the same high-energy core. That causes two problems. Even with a relatively short 60-minute set, it was hard to maintain a peak intensity level. Some songs Friday simply sagged. Also the band's narrow stance keeps it from exhibiting the broader pop shadings that other groups have incorporated in their equally intense, high energy styles. There's too little change of pace.

The fact that Clash invites comparisons with bands at the Stones and Who level, however, shows how promising and impressive a unit it is. The group's current eight city tour is an attempt to document that promise.

Hilburn, Robert. Los Angeles Times