Clash in NYC- waiting: for Ivan

ACCORDING to reports, it / was a hot. dead, airless summer in New York City. With nothing much happening on the local music scene, excitement centred on the English visitors. The Gang of Four were ecstatically received, scoring over the Buzzcocks, while Eddie and the Hot Rods -found a kinder welcome than they do at home. And when: the Clash arrived in town last week they were heralded in the Village Voice as "the most intense rock and roll band in the world".

Supported by the Undertones and Sam and Davie, the Clash sold out. the Palladium, as they had several months before. The Palladium is an old converted theatre; in commercial terms it stands half-way between the Mudd Club and Madison Square Garden. It's as ornate as London's Lyceum, but even slea2.ier Every Saturday night the 14rh Street pushers move from their usual pitch in front of the Disco Donut shop to outside the theatre doors, waiting to sell downers and questionable marijuana to the teenagers who flock in from the suburbs.

New York audiences are notoriously reserved, with the result that the Undertones almost stole the show on Thursday night and didn't realise it. Reported to be depressed by their performance, on Friday they shouted from the stage' :

"What is this, a funeral OK something?" and didn't come back for the encore they certainly deserved. Sam and Dave, who danced, sweated and crooned in a splendidly over-the-top performance, near-missed on the first night but hit on the second, with the audience dancing on the stage.

BUT it was the Clash's event, and even if they suffered from nerves or tiredness on Thursday, they had the singular achievement of keeping a Palladium audience on -their feet throughout the show. Friday night was stunning for its concentration, energy and high-spirited attack. Whatever they were in the beginning, they, now embody a modern version of -Fifties rock 'n' roll glamour- For many of the audience, they are simply a new kind of rock star.

Backstage the security force were guarding the door as if they were Kiss — no reflection on the group, just" house policy. "Youse can't come in here. understand — SO GET DOWN THOSE FUCKING STAIRS!" one of them shouted at Johnny - Ramone, who curled up shyly in the doorway, like a fern. In the dressing room the Clash signed autographs, submitted patiently to questions from people they didn't know and were filmed for television. Finally Mick Jones refused to do any more interviews:

'I can't talk now, I'm going through a transcendental phase." :

In a corner Joe Strummer was losing his voice. He said he felt happier with this tour than the last. "I think we're playing a lot better — more people are coming, which makes you feel like giving ,more. You feel less irrelevant,'' He admitted to be being depressed by "the behaviour of the bouncers on this tour: in Boston a girl was beaten up and pushed down the stairs. "During the 'Boston show they were punching people all over the hall. We stopped the show and said where's the promoter? And he weren't there, he'd run off like they all do. That's one area we just haven't got .control over yet."

Strummer insists the tour isn't making them money so far. "We— had to borrow $20,000 from Epic records to fund the tour, and it was hard enough getting that out of them.- They come and shake our hands and smile and say 'Great show, boys!' but they should make with the cheques. They should give us a hand — it's a costly business, this. We're staying at the Empire, which is the worst hotel in New York. You go in the shower and the wall falls on your back."

What about American audiences? "I always get tongue-tied when people ask me that. Because once I'm on stage and the lighting guy hits me with a hundred white lights, I don't know what country I'm in. As for seeing the cities — we've been three days now and played two shows and my taste of New York is 25 minutes standing on a corner in the rain eating a pizza. with a take-out coffee. Watching people go by, you know? I was standing by a phone booth and it started to ring. I walk over and pick up the phone and this guy asks to speak to Ivan. So I'm standing on the corner shouting Ivan! Ivan!' at the top of my voice — ruining it for the show — and no Ivan comes. So I say There ain't no Ivan', and he says "Thanks a lot'. And that's my experience of New York."

WITH what could have been wishful thinking, Strummer said he thought the American audiences appreciate the political content of the Clash's songs. "Even though America has cooled down a lot since all that turmoil in the Sixties, I think there are a 'lot of people who are willing to get on the street and fight for what they want. Even more so than in Britain, This is backstage at the Palladium, "but tomorrow we'll be rolling down the turnpike through all the burnt-out areas of Philadelphia. We think of America as this middle class place with everybody stuffing themselves, but a quarter of the population live in places that are Just like the Gorbals."

He fell silent and looked like someone who had had to answer too many questions. "I'm not into lying on a bed with a mirror and a razorblade. I'm not into it. I. just want to have a cup of coffee and a pizza on the corner while I think about things. And that's how I'm looking after that show, you know?" —