The Clash: Tuesday 3rd August 1982. Bristol Locarno
This gig turmed out to be the last ever British appearance for the core of Simenon, Strummer and Jones together. Terry Chimes had been rerecruited as drummer, and the gig had been rescheduled from May as a result of Joe Strummer's disappearance to Paris.
I remember the support act was a Sikh guy from Swansea billed as 'Peter Singh - The Indian Elvis'. I had seen him on afternoon TV a few weeks before and his schtick was to sing Elvis and Cliff Richard numbers and a few comic originals while dressed in a Vegas-period Presley white rhindstone jumpsuit, which he topped off with a matching white turban. The effect was a mildly amusing parody and in keeping with The Clash's liking for eclectic support acts,
Unfortunately this was the last gig of the tour and Peter had clearly over-celebrated at the end-of-term party. Stumbling drunkenly onto the stage he was unable to complete any more than a few lines of any song without falling over or collapsing into fits of drunken laughter. I remember him falling onto the drumkit and being unable to raise himself. After 10 minutes or so and a few attempts at singing 'Living Doll' he eventually gave up and retreated to the sanctuary of the dressing room. We took it in good part although it was pretty unprofessional.
After an extended break, The Clash took the stage, crashing into their opening numbers with their customary exhuberance. I hadn't seen them before, or particularly been a fan, but remember being impressed with the sheer passion with which they attacked each song. The gig finally gained some momentum but unfortunately this stuttered to a halt after half-a-dozen numbers or so...
There had clearly been some kind of incident at the front of the stage as Strummer was angrily bellowing into the crowd. I remember Mick Jones, his pencil-slim legs completed by a pair of Dr Marten boots, running across to aim an exaggerated kick at some transgressor in the front row, accompanied by much pointing and shouting. With that, the band downed their instruments and left the stage.
The Bristolian crowd were unimpressed. A sell out crowd (I myself viewed the gig from about four or five human layers back on the upstairs balcony) had now been deprived of both a proper support artist and now the main act. There was some booing and catcalling, and the mood darkened on what was a hot, clammy summer evening in the airless environment of The Locarno.
Fortunately after about 20 minutes the band were enticed back to the stage with an explanation. Strummer mumbled that he had been spat upon and that this had only happened twice on the tour, at Brighton a few days before and then Bristol.
Being aggreived seemed to motivate the band however, as they soon kicked into the rest of their set with their ardour undiminished. With the British leg over, the band jetted off to the States for a smattering of gigs, after which Jones quit, and although Joe struggled on with new personnel, it was effectively the end. Later Strummer's untimely passing deprived us of any possibility of a reunion.
It was the only Clash gig I ever saw, and despite everything, it was a cracker. I'm glad to have been there for a tiny slice of history, and even after 30 years my memories of the night are clear and positive.