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Thursday, June 14, 2007

the Clash - Hong Kong Calling

CLASHhkFrThere are local music fans who feel that Hong Kong pop has "degenerated" into the state it is, namely "soft" Canto-pop, because of groups such as The Carpenters. And to support the argument further, one can cite the popularity of The Shadows and The Quests in the former British Colony (in the '60s), and later on, The Bee Gees and even songbird Agnes Chan in the '70s.  
But then, long before Sonic Youth and Fugazi made their respective trips to South-east Asia, The Clash had their own foray into Hong Kong in 1982 - one of the last gigs Topper Headon played before he was sacked from the group. Before Hong Kong, the 1982 Far East Tour had brought the band to Japan, New Zealand and Australia. After Hong Kong, the band played Thamasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. According to a web report, in March 1982, Pennie Smith shot the cover photo for Combat Rock on a deserted railway line outside Bangkok.
In Hong Kong, the group performed at the Academic Community Hall, HK Baptist University in Kowloon. The capacity of the hall was about 1,200 and the concert was broadcast live on the radio.
Though not in pristine form, the FM show would still be considered good quality (fine mono) and it is well-circulated among fans. Unfortunately it isn't the complete show (the tape ends with Safe European Home) and there are cuts on the tape - either announcements were cut off or gaps between songs were cut off to save tape! One of the biggest downers is that Janie Jones is cut half way (Disc 1 Track 14) and continues on Disc Two Track 1.
Still, Joe Strummer is in good form - energetically working the crowd and, at one point, either in jest or drunk - offered to take on anyone game enough to get on stage with him for some hand-to-hand fisti-fu. The group doesn't sound tired at all and gingerly put the songs through their paces. The group even performed Know Your Rights, the lead-off track from the Combat Rock album, which would only be released in May 1982. While this isn't exactly the Summer of Love, one doesn't detect any bad blood in the air but according to internet reports, a music promoter wrote: "I think there was a stink about the concert afterwards and rock and roll was subsequently banned from that venue…" Trust the Baptists to get their panties in a knot.
Still, like they say, a wonderful and raucous time to be had by one and all.

the Clash - Hong Kong 1982


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