The Clash: Live at Shea Stadium

Ever since the Beatles took over the Shea Stadium pitcher's mound in 1965, rockers like Grand Funk Railroad, the Police and, most recently, Billy Joel have made playing the Mets' home a career apex. At the height of its commercial success, the Clash made it to the center diamond for two nights in 1982, though in the opening slot for The Who's first "farewell" tour; Live at Shea Stadium is the full set from the October 13 show. Unfortunately, most of the tracks find the band sounding a bit disconnected in Shea's vast expanse. It doesn't help that many of the numbers are played at a breakneck, rushed-tempo speed, stripping the stridency from "London Calling," while the words for "Magnificent Seven" come pouring out of Joe Strummer like, well, Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire." Even "The Guns of Brixton," sung by bassist Paul Simonon, comes off more as a jaunty dance number than foreboding set-up to sudden-death violence. By closer "I Fought the Law," it feels like Pete Townsend is standing stageside, waiting to pull the plug. Ironically, it's the material sung by Mick Jones ("Police on My Back," "Train in Vain") that stands out, and both "Career Opportunities" and "Clampdown" are solid. Live at Shea Stadium makes an interesting curio for fans of the Only Band That Mattered, but not the best representation of their incendiary live shows. Though its performances were culled from multiple shows over several years, that remains 1999's From Here to Eternity: Live.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero