The Clash | Harvard Square Theatre | February 16, 1979
Is this how the new wave ends: Not with a bang but with a Clash. By Ariel Swartley
The English press had declared punk rock all but dead and gone by 1979. But parts of America were warming up to the Clash, our appetites having been whetted since their first import singles started filtering across the Atlantic in 1977. So when Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon took the stage at the Harvard Square Theatre (no, it wasn’t a multiplex back then) and began their set with a well aimed “I’m So Bored With the USA,” they more than hit their mark. Talk about an audience ready to be preached to! We, too, were bored — not by the surfeit of killers on TV that bugged Strummer, but by a country mired in musical mediocrity. Give us those angry, harsh chords! We were up on our feet and on the seats immediately. When they invited us into “Janie Jones World” — a “getting-stoned world” — we followed happily. When they brought us to Jamaica for the class clash that was Junior Murvin’s “Police & Thieves,” we were glad to suck in the riddims and witness the imagined strife. When Topper hit the cannon-like drums and flashing lights for “Tommy Gun,” the place simply exploded. The Clash’s statement of purpose: “We’re a garage band/We come from garageland.” They made that garage the most happening of havens. Punk rock had truly arrived in Boston.
The Clash, way back when
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