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Godzillas of Punk: The Clash tear down Tokyo in 1982


To celebrate ‘International Clash Day’, a day solely dedicated to the only band that matters, The Clash, we thought we’d share a moment of true international dominance for Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon, as the arrive like monsters and tear down Tokyo in 1982.

Despite the lure of an international tour and the much-needed funds that go with it, The Clash would’ve been forgiven for not turning up to the ungodly run of tour dates their managers had laid out for the band as part of their tour of Asia—somehow managing to cram in 25 shows in little over a month.

Yet, The Clash were, if nothing else, a committed band and with thousands of fans across the globe desperate to hear the group’s rallying message of unity, it would be unheard of to let them down. The touring schedule wouldn’t be the only problem on this string of dates, however.

The infighting between the group two principal songwriters Mick Jones and Joe Strummer was beginning to become unbearable and their on-the-road-burnout, after five years of unrelenting touring, was beginning to show. To add to all that, the band’s drummer Heddon was beginning to collapse under his addiction to heroin.

“In the jazz days the saxophonist would be addicted to heroin, like Charlie Parker,” said Joe Strummer to Rolling Stone. “The nature of the instrument means it’s much better to be floating over the music, doing your thing, but it doesn’t suit drumming, which is like nailing a nail into the floor. It’s a precise thing. The beats have to be there and when Topper got addicted, he couldn’t play anymore. It doesn’t work with drums.”

Yet, somehow, the band rallied together and delivered a simply blistering performance that shook the tall buildings of Tokyo and reverberated around Japan. The Clash were making their first visit to the land of the rising sun after previously taking a stand against their custom of not allowing audiences to stand during concerts. Once a compromise was met (the crowd could stand but only at their seats) Strummer et al boarded the first plane.

The footage below was captured on the group’s fourth night at the Nakano Plaza on January 28th, 1982. It sees the quartet deliver a truly inspirational show as they rattle through some of the greatest punk songs ever written.

Starting the evening with ‘London Calling’ they went on to perform ‘Safe European Home’, ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ and a special version of ‘Fujiyama Mama’ which included Paul Simonon’s wife, Pearl E. Gates—all coming to a close with a rousing performance of ‘White Riot’.

It’s hard to imagine the impact bands like The Clash had on Japan in the late seventies and early 1980s. A country so steeped in tradition and conformity is met by The Clash and their penchant for bringing down any establishment they meet. It is an enticing prospect and one that shouldn’t be avoided a moment longer.

Below watch The Clash become Godzillas of Punk and tear down Tokyo in 1982.

As thirteen song sets go, it’s not a bad one to have:

‘London Calling’
‘Safe European Home’
‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’
‘Brand New Cadillac’
‘Charlie Don’t Surf’
‘This is Radio Clash’
‘Armagideon Time’
‘Jimmy Jazz’
‘Tommy Gun’
‘Fujiyama Mama’
‘Police On My Back’
‘White Riot’