Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at Paste.com, from Dizzy Gillespie to The Kinks to Public Enemy to HAIM. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive for the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Search and enjoy!
In early 1979, a raging and politicized force came tumbling across the ocean to America: English punk upstarts The Clash, with two albums under their belt, embarked on their first United States jaunt, the “Pearl Harbor ‘79” Tour. This performance from Feb. 13,1979, recorded at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, showcases The Clash as they approached their prime, mere months before the release of London Calling. Having emerged from the streets and schools of London just a few years before, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Co. put their strained relationship with law enforcement and the city itself right up front on songs like “London’s Burning,” “White Riot” and “Tommy Gun.” Wrestling against the nihilism of London’s other cresting punk group, the Sex Pistols, The Clash were determined to establish a separate and defining identity through their explicitly political lyrics and diverse sound.
Their performance on Feb. 13, 1979, came on the heels of their second record, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, and features several songs from the album including “Stay Free,” “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad,” and “Safe European Home” as a rattling opener. They also threw in several would-be classics from their 1977 self-titled debut, namely “Janie Jones,” “White Riot” and a raucous “Police & Thieves,” introduced by a slurring Strummer thusly: “We have to talk to a lot of journalists, and they always ask us, ‘Excuse me sir, but does your music have a message?’...To any journalists in the audience, this is the message.”
Listen to “Police & Thieves,” “London’s Burning” and “Janie Jones” from The Clash’s jarring performance on this date from 39 years ago.
Read: The 30 Best Punk Cover Songs of All Time