Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros | the Roxy | November 22, 1999
The rise of platinum punks like Rancid in the ’90s didn’t embitter Strummer; it inspired him to record two great albums for Epitaph. He was in a celebratory mood when he returned to the States on this tour with his young Mescaleros. He stormed the stage, looking like the gangster rockabilly 101’er he’d once been, surrounded by young, brash players who were clearly in awe of their leader, and burned down the house. Of course, no one knew that Strummer would be dead in just a few years. In retrospect, that might have made this show just that much more special. But, to hear him dig back into the Clash’s songbook for “Rock the Casbah,” “London Calling,” and “I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)” was pure pleasure. No less so than hearing the new material, filled with the kind of apocalyptic poetry he brought to rock and roll with songs like “Straight To Hell.” It was both a coming-out party and a welcome-back celebration, as well as a way of acknowledging that without Joe we wouldn’t have Rancid, Green Day, and so many of the other neo-punks who have made a lot more green off their Mohawks than Strummer ever did.
Joe Strummer, circa 1999
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