London WC2 Astoria

A lengthy run of [B]Clash[/B] nuggets [B]'Safe European Home'[/B], [B]'Tommy Gun'[/B], [B]'London Calling'[/B], [B]'Bank Robber'[/B] sets the 40-year-old geezers pogoing as high as middle-yo

“I never came ‘ere to fuck around and I never fucking will!” he snarls, hauling himself out of the crowd after a mid-set altercation with a heckler. For two minutes, Joe Clash-a-billy Strummer is face-to-face with a mosh enemy and only the security men stop it turning into a fight. Wa-hey, a ruck! Wa-hey, primitive rock’n’roll reality! And isn’t that Old Father Time in the corner with a safety-pinned beer belly?

For the most part, though, dignity is in the house tonight. Or at least in the foyer. Strummer looks plausible in his biker boots and all black, sings with undiminished Westway snooker-shark rasp, and some of the Mescaleros songs composed with current Strummer aid Anthony Genn, even hold their place. The sax’d-up dub skank of ‘Tony Adams’ swaggers and smoulders like, well, Big Audio Dynamite. The electro-billy ballad ‘Yalla Yalla’ hits the terrace-soul mark.

For those with longer memories, it’s a moving cruise to a time when rock and its myths held a safer place in the culture. Anita Pallenberg‘s in the house, so Joe says, and Chrissie Hynde, and there’s Jarvis downstairs representing ‘the youth’. And that’s the odd, inescapable thing with the proud return of a still-potent Joe Strummer, that despite offering top value as a teary-eyed, three-chord, dreads’n’teds sedition masterclass, precious few kids have climbed over the generational wall to have a look.

A lengthy run of Clash nuggets – ‘Safe European Home’, ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘London Calling’, ‘Bank Robber’ – sets the 40-year-old geezers pogoing as high as middle-youth girth allows, and if you squint at Joe, it’s just like the videos, and like Ibiza never happened.

Great, of course, but questionable. Paul Simonon and Mick Jones must be sitting at home right now, trying to work out how much glory is left over when you’ve subtracted that twinge of pathos.

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