After the triumph of London, Justice Tonight rolls into Liverpool for what is considered to be best gig on the tour so far. Film maker and author Kevin Sampson sends us the diary report from the show?..
Where to start, where to start”Â¦it was all so fucking brilliant. One of those overwhelmingly emotion-charged nights that transcend the norms of a rock n roll show and send you home giddy. Let’s start at the end: twenty-odd musicians on stage to belt out All Together Now, a song that is now up there with Give Peace A Chance and Champagne Supernova as a crowd-uniting, barrier-breaking, hair-raising anthem. That song symbolised what this show and this tour has been all about: bringing all manner of good people together to raise their voices and raise the roof for the common cause of Justice.
The day before the show, the odious scumbag Kelvin Mackenzie had been on the BBC’s politics show spouting yet more hideous untruths about the Hillsborough tragedy and the way he chose to report it. It is only right that the Justice Tonight tour has played out to a backdrop of the empire Mackenzie helped build starting to crumble; the practices he made common being shown up for the hideous crimes against humanity they truly are. I’m not one for revenge myself. My philosophy has always been – life is too short. But as much as it satisfies the soul to the Murdochs roasting on the spit, the job can not be considered done while Mackenzie walks and talks unchecked. The man is a disgrace and he must be brought down. There was anger, as well as excitement in the air as Cast walked on to start the show.
I’d forgotten how good Cast are. John Power, a lifelong Redman and diehard socialist, was in his element here, racing through a short set of classics. In light of Mackenzie’s latest slurs, Fine Time was particularly cutting.
“It’s a fine time, the right time, to make a change.”Â
John Bishop came on. In a cardigan. He has excellent hair, that fellow – very shiny indeed; and splendid teeth, it must be noted, too. He managed to pull of that rare thing of being funny and poignant at the same time, before destroying The Monkees Daydream Believer in fine, pissed, karaoke style. Well in, John Bishop.
Next up was the magnificent Peter Wylie, the Elvis of Sefton Park. I was watching him with a fella from Finland, one from Lincoln and a southerner – none of them was familiar with the Wylie oeuvre.
“You’re in for a treat”Â, I grinned. “Stand back and prepare to be blown away.”Â
That’s exactly what happened. With all that excitement and adrenaline in the air, songs like Come Back and Sinful were packed with a hearfelt emotional back-story. He was joined on stage by one of the Liverpool music scene’s best-loved, unsung heroes, Ian “Davvo”Â Davitt who still looks like an Armani model in his forties – the handsome bastard. Davvo has helped out any and every band you care to mention; it is quite simply brilliant that he’s on stage, these days, instead of making it all tick behind the scenes. Heart As Big As Liverpool is already a classic but, for me, the highlight was a punked-up, power pop version of You’d Better Scream – A song I (and 23 others) saw first saw Wah! Heat play live in 1979. Jussi from Finland was in tears by the end. Wonderful, wonderful stuff Wylie.
Billy Bragg came on and sparked the first mass singalong of the night with his Scousers Don’t Buy The Sun anthem, then it was The Farm and friends to take the freaky dancing to a new level. They stormed straight into Groovy Train and the crowd went batty. Any Farm show is a license for bacchanalia, but this was absurd. Lads and lasses in their fifties were having to stop for a breather, so crazily energetic was the flailing and pogoing. I was speechless and breathless by the end of All Together Now and praying for a bit of a blow”Â¦..and then Mick Jones came on.
It’s going to be difficult to sum up just how special he was. It’s not just the songs, although hearing White Man In Hammersmith Palais live for the first time is an all-time high for me. It wasn’t just the sight of Michael Jones Of The Clash up there within touching distance, smiling uncontrollably at the joy of it all – being up there with his mates, making music that makes a difference. It wasn’t the memories that those songs stoke – Train In Vain, London Calling, Janie Jones all evoke great times, being young and care free.
What is special about Mick Jones is that he exudes the very essence of the stuff that makes rock and roll music a force in our lives. He has a supreme and enduring genius yet he is humble, generous and humane. He’s up there, doing that, because he cares about things that matter – and each and every one of his songs is saying something. I broke down when he started into Stay Free – as heartbreaking a poem to lost friends as has ever been written.
Everyone was on stage for the grand finale of All Together Now and every single person in that crowd sang along to every single word – musicians and audience united in song to make our voices heard. Kelvin Mackenzie. Maggie Thatcher. Bernard Murray. You have been warned. The Truth will out.