Elton John and Bono discuss the influence of Joe Strummer
Credit: John Joe Coffey

The moment Joe Strummer joined The Pogues to sing ‘London Calling’, 1988

The iconic moment Joe Strummer joined The Pogues on stage for a quite incredible performance of The Clash anthem ‘London Calling’, during at a beer-rendered evening in 1988, likely remains a figment of the wildest dreams of those in attendance. To see the Irish-affiliated band perform on St. Patrick’s Day is one thing, but to come complete with Strummer is something altogether more impressive.

The Town & Country club in London, which is now known as Kentish Town Forum, on a raucous St. Patrick’s Day, was set to host one of the rowdiest nights in its long and illustrious history when The Pogues came to town with some impressive feature artists. It was a performance which, despite being a little tinged with the growing frustrations of losing Shane MacGowan to his substances, will go down as one of the band’s best.

The performance was special not only because it features a Joe Strummer-led Pogues version of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’, but because the gig also featured Kirsty MacColl giving a wonderful rendition of ‘Fairytale of New York’, a song which has yet again brought out the worst faction of Britain as the desperation to scream a homophobic slur trumps common sense. The performance was an experience only to be topped by the entrance of The Specials’ Lynval Golding and all the fun and fury of Irish jig ska with a special Pogues cover of ‘A Message To You (Rudi)’.

However, before The Specials arrived it was time for Joe to take to the mic and perform one of the most iconic songs ever written, The Clash’s 1979 hit ‘London Calling’. The crowd naturally reacted with a combination of beer-throwing and heavy pogo-ing as they undulate like one mutating bacteria. A must see experience that we can happily bring you with the footage below.

The connection between Pogues and Strummer was clearly strong both on and off the stage as, following MacGowan’s continued affliction of alcohol abuse, with The Pogues at their most lucrative, he was forced to step aside as the band’s lead singer. As a longtime fan of the band, Joe Strummer stepped up to the mic to help the tour.

It must’ve been a difficult position for Strummer as he was a big fan of MacGowan, with whom he had spent many a punk evening in the embryonic moments of that incendiary scene. The leader of The Clash even described MacGowan as “one of the finest writers of the century.” He always said that people “just have no idea of how great he is.” He does his best to provide the perfect platform for the singer to return to.

Watch below as Joe Strummer joins The Pogues for a rousing rendition of ‘London Calling’ as they add some Irish flare to the British anthem.

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