Justice Tonight to play Strummer Of Love
Justice Tonight to play Strummer Of Love

Mick Jones is backstage at Sheffield Leadmill after another successful night on the Justice Tonight tour and is talking about the Justice Tonight tour and using Clash songs for what they were written; for Justice. He smiles his famous grin and ponders on what his former Clash colleague, the late Joe Strummer, would have thought him playing the Clash songs on the Justice Tonight tour…
”ËœI think Joe would be with us completely. I feel he is with us all the time. He would be pleased we are doing this for sure, and that it’s not a waste of time doing the numbers for some pointless nostalgia tour.’
The tour is an ad hoc line up of Mick Jones, The Farm, Pete Wylie and special guests each night, and is out on the road in support of the Justice for the Hillsborough 96  and the Don’t Buy The Sun campaigns.
 The tour is already an emotionally charged and thrilling run though classic Clash songs played for the first time live in three decades by Mick as well as a set of The Farm’s greatest hits and Pete Wylie’s wonderful heartwarming anthems but the first appearance the night before of the Stone Roses Ian Brown and John Squire, on stage at Manchester Ritz, since the band reformed has given it an extra weight and importance.
 The Manchester United supporting Roses pair’s appearance was a powerful statement. The traditional rivalry between the two city’s was put into a real context.
 ”ËœWe are two ends of the same city,’ Ian Brown said afterwards, I’ve always said, ”ËœIt’s not about where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’ and if we stuck together London could never tell us what to do.’
 The Roses pair mini set was kept secret and caught the packed audience by surprise.  To see the Roses and the Clash sharing on stage was a special moment- the two key bands of their respective generations united in an important cause- a cry for justice- was the perfect platform the Roses return.
 Mick Jones himself is sat backstage dapper as ever in a sharp suit with another suit for stage hanging on the wall and armed with his permanent non stop grin and reflects on the calibre of the guests each night.
 ‘The people we have got in each night and will get in reflect our kinship with those people and they are doing a  great job doing heir version of the vocals for the songs.It’s great to see how much the songs still mean to the audience. It’s emotional for the audience and it’s emotional for me. We don’t do them like a tribute band, nothing like that.  With the Farm and the guests- there’s a lot of guitars up there, an orchestra of guitars- you can never have enough guitars! Last night ‘Garageland’ had 5 guitars playing on it.’
The two hour set starts with the Farm playing a mini set before they are joined by Mick Jones and Pete Wylie for a run through of Wylie’s politically charged, emotionally drenched anthems before the whole band play a set of Clash songs.
The demand for justice for the 96 fans who died at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest semi final has been generally ignored by the powers that be but the campaign has kept the cause alive and has been amplified by events like these. The Don’t Buy the Sun campaign is part and parcel of this after the Sun smeared he people of Liverpool after Hillsborough which saw he city stop buying it over night. On that first night  of this event in Liverpool at the great old Olympia venue last September the gig also featured an emotive speech from Tom Watson MP, the man who took on the Murdochs. Watson delivered a powerful and concise anti Murdoch speech that was pure punk rock.
 Mick recalls that first night which was meant to be a one off concert.
‘The tour started as a one off gig in Liverpool and when I was asked to do it I was straight in.  I have had close ties to Liverpool for years. They are like my brothers these people and if there is ever any band I want to play with its these guys in The Farm because they really understand my work.
I have been close to Liverpool since the punk days with my friendship with Pete Wylie as well. Years ago I did this thing with The Farm at one gig then we went out later and they all sang an acapella version of ”ËœWhite Man In Hammersmith Palais’ and it wasQQ so moving to see what that song meant to people.’
For Mick it’s the perfect platform to play the Clash songs that he has not played for years.
”ËœI haven’t played a set of Clash songs since I was in the Clash and this seemed like a really meaningful forum for them. We are not chasing any illusions here, I just wanted to put the songs to a good use. That’s why I’m doing this. I might as well make myself useful and use the stuff that I have to contribute to the thing.’
The Clash songs played include ”ËœStay Free’ sung by Pete Wylie  a Mick sung ”ËœTrain In Vain’, ”ËœWhite Man In Hammersmith Palais’ sung by Peter Hooten, ”ËœBankrobber’ and ”ËœArmagideon Times’ delivered by the guests as well as ”ËœJanie Jones’, ‘Brand New Cadillac’ ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’, ‘Garageland’ and even later in the tour a sprightly run through of ‘London Calling’ and others.
 Mick looks up.
 ”ËœThat first gig in Liverpool in September was so successful that we thought we should try and do some more. We knew it wasn’t just Liverpool  that cared about this thing – and there is the bigger picture as well, the primary cause is Liverpool and the Hillsborough 96  and the campaign but it’s all connected to things like Occupy Wall Street, St. Pauls, usp, Arab Spring. It’s a feeling and we are part of that feeling and we are also reminding people of what gigs could be about rather than what they have become.
 It’s so disappointing with what they have become. The reason why that happened was that the corporations are not just happy to just sponsor the culture they want to be the culture and we need to claw that back for our own self respect, our own feeling of self worth, because we are worth a lot. People have been made into morons basically, very subtlety, so this for me gave myself a meaning in my life, and I give all I have to give here. We are not chasing nostalgia, not doing that atall. The songs stand up.’
Somewhere Joe Strummer is nodding his head in agreement. Surely this is just what his vision of the Clash was and he must be proud that Mick is doing the good work. Mick himself is still involved with BAD and is talking of recording a new album with some of he songs written. He is also excited by this new project and there is talk of new shows but nothing confirmed at the time of writing. He could, of course, do both. A lot of people hope so- the Clash coming back like latter day Robin Hoods, just when we needed a rock n roll band as a focal point for dissent, well no-one would have called that one would they?

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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. John, this sums up the whole tour perfectly. I went to the second Liverpool show and my greatest memory of it is the feeling of genuine people trying to make a difference. There wasnt anything contrived about it at all. Mick Jones wasn’t some icon on the stage. He was one of us, obviously loving every minute of the show, as much as the mainly middle aged audience.
    In these times of instant fame and manufactured music it was wonderful to see and hear a sound that was from the heart.
    To be honest, I was there to see Mick but I came away with a more enlightened view of the Justice Tonight struggle. If music can open peoples minds to this and other causes then, to me, there is hope for the future.
    Well done Mick and the guys. A wonderful evening for a great cause.

  2. There was plenty evidence on that bit of a shambles Justice mini-tour that if Mick does have any plans to perform any Clash stuff he’ll need to choose the other members onstage very carefully – Paul of course – but if they can’t get Topper fit and ready for duty – an immense drummer to properly play his parts is vital – no-one can replace Joe tho’ and if he wheels out Billy f*ckin’ Bragg i may kill myself … or him.
    Personally i hope he leaves the legacy well alone.

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