Big Audio Dynamite
Manchester Academy 1
April 8th 2011

Big Audio Dynamite – live review

What was once the future is now the past.

Is there a band that ever existed not actually in action now? And does it matter?

When Mick Jones was thrown out the Clash and put together BAD he fast forward to the future. Combining his love of the emerging hip hop scene, movies and punk’s questioning attitude he reinvented himself as the B Boy superior with a multiracial crew of dread droogs who were busy rolling their dynamite under the pop machine.

Don Letts was added to the band to take on the Paul Simonon role- the cool dude who was not initially a musician but whose nous was just as important and swiftly BAD became a new way to make music.
They were upfront on sampling and they created a bridge between the multicultural Clash end of punk rock and the new culture coming out of the so called ghettos of the USA. They were comfortable with the cutting edge and meshed it with rock n roll Mick’s understanding of the trad song form.

A couple of decades later and they have re-emerged and have struck a nerve ina sold out venue. The legacy of the Clash is one thing- the band have become the biggest what if in the history of rock n roll and are far bigger now than they ever were in their short sojourn but it’s BAD’s own songs that cut through the passage of time.

Jones has been pottering around for a few years. There was the underrated Carbon/Silicon with his buddy Tony James- they chose to remain underground utililsing the Internet and playing low key gigs before Mick went off to play guitar in the Gorillaz. The Gorillaz world tour has obviously fired him up again and he’s back out on another road stretch with a bunch of festivals at the end of this tour with the revitalised BAD. “Doing Gorillaz helped me come out of myself,”Jones claims, going on to explain how it was Albarn and his partner in Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett, who persuaded him to undertake the reunion. “They were always saying, ‘We love BAD!’ Through the second half of the year, everyone was saying, ‘You’ve got to do BAD.’”‰” He shrugs. “It feels timely.”

The man himself is cool as fuck- he looks great in his ever present Ealing gangster suit complete with top pocket ”Ëœchief, shades and boater and waltzes across the stage with a familiar swagger with his guitar playing as great as ever.

Jones oozes a rare pleasure on the stage, the snarling, wired Jones of the Clash days has been replaced by the veteran trooper who holds the band and the stage together like an old school swing band leader, his cool and his charm vital to the operation.

The band are drilled, there are no slip ups and they hit the BAD groove elongating the songs into hypnotic punk funk mantras. Jones’s foil Don Letts jives by his keyboard punching in the samples and cutting loose on some idiosyncratic raps, Letts is the lord of the cool, the cut controller and his encyclopaedic music and pop cultural knowledge is the perfect match to Mick’s.

BAD deal out the hits and have the rough and ready crowd bouncing. The audience is far less the punk end of Clashabilly than you would expect and is made up of grown up terrace lads doing the pint in each hand dance.

BAD’s comeback is a triumph and it’s hard to think that Mick Jones spent all those years out of the game, preferring producing or building up his pop culture collection. Onstage he grins again, that electric joy de vivre as he surfs on the BAD energy that fills the room and possibly realises that his band’s forward looking music has never dated.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I couldn’t have put it better myself John. I was at the very front and Mick Jones had the biggest smiles you just knew he was lapping up the audiences adulations. Brilliant gig …… long may they continue

  2. Lyrics and attitude still relevant today. The trouble with stuff that’s ahead of it’s time is that most people don’t realise it until it’s not there anymore.

    New decade, social upheaval, Tory Britain…..sound familiar? The early 80’s provided some great material for BAD. Maybe there’s some new stuff on it’s way.

    Let’s hope.

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