Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Clash - Know Your Rights (US Festival 1983)

Ah, the US Festival. Generally speaking this is regarded as far from The Clash's best performance, a sentiment which I personally have to echo. Taken as a whole performance its not them at their peak as a live act (You need a Topper Headon era show for that in my opinion). They were still very good live though, and every so often they would come up with a performance that is amongst their best. Know Your Rights from the US Festival is one such performance I think. For me its also somewhat nostalgic - this was the first live Clash performance I ever saw when I began investigating them last year. This was probably what made me a bona-fide fan really. I loved it then and still do now. It's common knowledge that this show took place in very sour circumstances. Relations between the band were at an all time low and it would in fact be Mick Jones' last live show with the group. Their most recent album of the time - Combat Rock - may have been their biggest selling to date, and the US Festival may have been the biggest crowd the band played too but it was a far from harmonious event. The group were very angry that the ticket prices were $25 (they had been told they'd be $17). The band announced at a pre-show press conference that if Apple (who's co-founder Steve Wozniak sponsored the festival) failed to cough up a hefty donation of $100,000 to charity then they simply wouldn't play. Watching the performance you can almost taste Joe Strummer's scorn. What I love about this performance is that he channels those feelings into his delivery and performance completely. Know Your Rights is probably the last true punk song The Clash wrote and it already has one of the most rousing sets of lyrics Joe Strummer ever wrote for me. His delivery in this performance just lifts the whole song up a notch though. I prefer how he sings the song here to how he sings the studio version by a landslide. I'd already consider the original amongst my favourite Clash songs but I prefer this live version to the studio version truth be told. It's also been officially released on the Revolution Rock DVD (the only US Festival performance to be released officially). Stellar performance.

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