#349: 1978, The Clash, Stay Free

by Jackie_South on December 10, 2011

As I trailed back on Monday, yesterday George East and I went to the superlative Hillsborough 96 gig at The Scala last night – one of the greatest gigs of my life.

Even without Mick Jones, it was pretty impressive: The Farm performing Groovy Train and Altogether Now (complete with some podgy bloke in a hat on guitar and what looked like a history teacher from a new university on bass); Pete Wiley doing The Story of the Blues, Come Back and Sinful; a manic guest appearance by Bobby Gillespie with Rocks Off; a moving speech on the campaign from Steve Rotheram and another on Murdoch from Tom Watson.

Jones looked as if he was having the time of his life on stage, performing The Clash numbers with the rest, opening with Train In Vain.  The icing on the cake was the all too brief, if as cool as fuck, appearance of Paul Simonon on stage to play bass before singing Guns Of Brixton.

As we trudged up Grays Inn Road to the gig, George and I were speculating like excited teenagers whether that reunion on stage might happen.  On that slog through the rain, we also swapped lines of Stay Free as well.  As it happens, it was the second song up once The Clash material started.

So, despite the unforgettable performances of London Calling, Should I Stay Or Should I Go, Bankrobber, Brand New Cadillac, Janie Jones (responsible for drenching my shirt in a cocktail of what seemed like every drink on sale in the place) and Armagideon Time (which gave the gig its title Justice Tonight) I’ve gone with this.

It is a brilliant piece that combines youthful anger at the world with a touching sentimentality for a one-time best mate whose life has followed a different path.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North December 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

GUTTED, GUTTED, GUTTED – that I missed this!
Stay Free is one of my favourite Clash songs!
‘We met when we were at school.
Took no shit from no one, we were cool….’


Geoff Elliott December 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

Bugger. Bloody works Christmas bash clashed with this, pardon the pun, and I too missed out. Bugger again.


George_East December 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

Given that the main reason for the split was Paul and Mick falling out big style, to have the (briefest of) reunions in the context of a benefit gig rather than some big cash in tour, was true to the spirit of The Clash. Stunningly brilliant gig – and a very long time since I spent that much time in the mosh pit!


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