16 Tons Tour
Supported by someone called Angel?

updated 7 June 2003
updated 25 December 2008 - added support info
updated 20 Sept 2012 - added ticket stub
updated Dec 2020 - added press previews
updated June 2022 - added better poster
Updaetd August 2022 - added The Poser fanzine

Audio 1

very thin sound - unknown gen - 2 sound - 22 tracks - 77.38mins

Audio to follow

Sound Quality

The tape in circulation has a thin shrill sound with some distortion. There is some detail and clarity though, vocals and between song comments can be made out. Bass is almost completely buried with guitars high up in the mix. It’s not too far off what is probably an average only master spoilt by the inadequacies of the tape recorder, the high volumes and the sound of chattering voices all around (it was probably recorded at the back near the bar). The latter does add to the atmosphere but does annoy at times, why do some people pay to see a gig and then constantly chat to their mates while the band’s playing?

All in all quite listen able but the thin shrill sound makes it one of the few Clash bootlegs best enjoyed at low volumes!

The tape omits the second encore sadly, missing probably Joe Ely singing Fingernails, Bankrobber, Tommy Gun and London’s Burning.

The next night Blackhill hired 2 industrial sized fans to cool the band

First of 2 nights at the Camden Electric Ballroom, and the night the air ventilator vents were closed making the atmosphere for the jam packed audience unbearably hot. Johnny Green was trying to cool the band stage side by billowing a towel to stop them passing out.

The next night Blackhill hired 2 industrial sized fans to cool the band but as the vents were now open it was freezing!

Out of favour with the press

The Clash were again out of favour in the music press at the time borne out by the two reviews of the gig (see links).


[Comment] The 1979 shows at the Electric Ballroom were supported by Joe Ely and a group called the Vincent Units - the Lyceum gig (on the Sunday was Mikey Dread and the Nips).

was ruined by the abysmal nature of the venue

The NME review by Clash supporter and later Strummer friend Gavin Martin was captioned ‘Spiritual Fall From Grace’ and said the performance was ruined by the abysmal nature of the venue, [i.e. the heat, fair enough] “and more pertinently by a complex series of inner and outer tensions”. He fails to give any convincing reasons to justify this; the main criticism being the mindless behaviour of some of the audience. He contradicts himself by also praising particularly Joe for their determination to overcome the heat and deliver to the majority of faithful followers.

He endorses the musical progression demonstrated on London Calling. The Clash would have been in complete agreement with him, becoming increasingly frustrated at the punk purity brigade who would not accept their inevitable musical growth and diversity.

What is clear from the below average recording in circulation is that despite the heat and a minority gobbing and throwing glasses at them, The Clash stick with it and deliver a strong committed performance. As Gavin Martin rightly points out Joe’s efforts to understand “this absurd phenomenon” were commendable even if it left him “a cauldron of exasperation, exhaustion and despair”.

most of the audience defeated by the oppressive heat.

Chris Bohn in Melody Maker was at both the Electric Ballroom shows and the Lyceum the next night and his account is perceptive. He confirms 2 encores were played on the 3 nights, but the second on this night was not even called for, the Ballroom was half empty, most of the audience defeated by the oppressive heat. Perhaps the taper gave up as well for this reason as the second encore with Joe Ely guesting is missing from this tape!

Mick gets a grilling from Gavin Martin, “complacent detachment of a guitar hero” but Chris Bohn praises his guitar playing, describing it as “stingingly sweet on Spanish Bombs”

Gavin Martin said they needed a rest; the tour had fatigued them and sapped them of will power and cohesion. Mick certainly agreed with the first point, this recording ends with an emotional Mick saying this was the “longest tour we’ve ever done and we’re never ever, ever do one like this again”

water dripping from the ceiling, carnage!

Gary Penketh First night they forgot to turn the AC on...water dripping from the ceiling and the upstairs glass viewing area was all misted up...carnage!

Electric Ballroom preview


Robin Denslow



The Electric Ballroom next to Camden tube station, on their home turf.

It’s still in use today as a dance nightclub and has staged gigs in recent years by Blur and the Gallagher’s for example (see photos). It’s future is now in doubt with demolition and redevelopment proposed as the Camden market area turns further into a soulless tourist trap. Ironically the venue is still open Saturday’s for a Record Fair, (little has changed inside since 80) and some Clash bootlegs can be found inside on sale.

“Good evening to you, hope you can stand the temperature!”

After a fired up Clash City Rockers Joe says, “Good evening to you, hope you can stand the temperature!” The performances are strong and no sign of the band not giving it all despite the heat. Mickey comes in on Jimmy Jazz as usual and Joe comments, “Like to introduce this number here, everybody tells us is rubbish but anyway”. A strong London Calling is preceded by “We’re taking this number around the world, well around England anyway!” The Clash were having problems booking several London venues, and before White Man Joe says “ OK but for the GLC [Greater London Council] we’d be able to do this song at Hammersmith Palais”.

An emotional Joe says before Spanish Bombs “By the way I’d just like to announce in my clearest voice (!) that those of you who want to go to the ticket office and get a refund on your ticket, reason being that it’s too hot in here to move properly..(gobbing, glass throwing continues) please give us a break for a minute OK, one minute!”

The rare Keys To Your Heart is the highlight of the recording. A largely unheralded Strummer classic The Clash deliver a fine arrangement.

Tape problems during Wrong ‘Em Boyo cause the levels to drop temporarily.

Joe’ adlibs on Clampdown and Police & Thieves are sadly unclear but the passion and commitment is certainly there.

The tape fades out then back in before a fired up Janie Jones leads into Complete Control and the end of the set.

The tapes fades in as Joe tries to introduce Mikey to start the encore but is interrupted and disgusted by some of the audience; “Oi! Gobbers, I DON’T need this, does anyone want to know what that is, gob, G.O.B!” Armagideon Time continues to get an extended treatment, with Mikey Dread toasting between Joe’s heavily echoed vocals. It segues into a fine English Civil War before blasting straight into Garageland with no evidence of the effect of the heat on the performance.

The tape ends with a drained Mick “Goodnight, I’d just like to say this is the end of the longest tour [strange comment they had a number of dates still to play, even more were it not for Topper’s subsequent injury] we’ve ever done and we’re never, ever do one like this again, never!”

vivid memory of the sudden eruption of pogo dancing at the first chord of Clash City Rockers

Electric Ballroom - 15th February 1980

I was there.  This was the first time I had seen The Clash and I still have a very vivid memory of the sudden eruption of pogo dancing at the first chord of Clash City Rockers.  And yes, it was very hot in there.

As well as Mikey Dread and Joe Ely, there was another support act by the name of Vincent Units.  Once these had all played their sets, it was quite late in the evening by the time The Clash got on stage.  That may account for why the venue was half empty for the encores.  I had to leave before the end to catch my last train home and I'm sure a lot of other punters had to do likewise.

I remember the bouncers (or "admissions consultants" as I think we are now supposed to call them) were a rather menacing lot.  One of them had developed the party trick of tearing the ticket stub off with one hand. I hope this is of interest. Cheers, Phil Mackie

The Poser fanzine,

issue #5 (1980)

Pages, 1,23 & 5 - Electric Ballroom 15th
Page 4 - Lycuem 17th

Melody Maker
Caught in the Act / Fings ain't what they used to be

Chris Bohn

text version

Alternate version

Electric Ballroom - Preview Time Out


Lubbock Calling:

Joe Ely Remembers the Clash

NME How the Clash fell from Grace

Gavin Martin

A Riot of Our Own p225

Financial Times : The Clash

19 Feb 1980

Unknown review, The Clash Electric Ballroom


THEY were going to build an indoor cattle market beside the tube station in Camden, but the residents complained so they settled for a rock venue. They called it the Electric Ballroom.

Past, post and present punky wavers are packed inside the confines like pilchards pickled in perspiration. The ventilation is atrocious, the air is neither `sweaty’ nor `steamy’ but downright uncomfortable, unbearably so.

Joe Ely and The Clash


Record Mirror Ely joins the Clash

80 02 02

Record Mirror: Joe Ely own dates



A thrashing by the Clash
Punk may drive some away from worthy messages

The Kansas City Star
Wed May 23 1984

High plains singer
Jo Ely hails form West Texas, music country

The Kansas City Star
Tue May 22 1984

Joe Ely: Another Tough Texan

Intelligencer Journal
Thu Apr 26 1984

The Clash and Joe Ely: Lubbock Calling

Oct. 4, 1979
at the Armadillo was British band's Texas debut

Muncie Evening Press

Sat May 9 1981

The Salina Journal

Sun May 17 1981

The Scrantonian

Sun May 24 1981


The Clash at the Electric Circus, The Poser Photozine,1980


Did you go? What do you remember?

Info, articles, reviews, comments or photos welcome.
Please email blackmarketclash



Clash City Rockers
Brand New Cadilac
Safe European Home
Jimmy Jazz
London Calling
Protex Blue
Guns of Brixton
Train in Vain
White Man in Ham Palais
Koka Kola
I Fought the Law
Spanish Bombs
Keys to Your Heart
Wrong `Em Boyo
Police and Thieves
Jane Jones
Complete Control
Armagideon Time
English Civil War

There are several sights that provide setlists but most mirror www.blackmarketclash.co.uk. They are worth checking.

from Setlist FM (cannot be relied on)

from Songkick (cannot be relied on)
... both have lists of people who say they went

& from the newer Concert Database and also Concert Archives

Also useful: Ultimate Music database, All Music, Clash books at DISCOGS

Articles, check 'Rocks Back Pages'

16 Tons UK Tour


A collection of
- Tour previews
- Tour posters
- Interviews
- Features
- Articles
- Tour information

A collection of articles, interviews, reviews, posters, tour dates January, February 1980 covering the period the 16 Tons tour of the UK.


Video and audio footage from the tour including radio interviews.


Return of the Last Gang in Town,
Marcus Gray


Passion is a Fashion,
Pat Gilbert


Redemption Song,
Chris Salewicz


Joe Strummer and the legend of The Clash
Kris Needs


The Clash (official)
by The Clash (Author), Mal Peachey


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