The Clash reunited! Pair jam after 25 years

For the first night of their six-week residency in West London's Inn On The Green, Carbon/Silicon had promised surprises, but few had realised that meant the reunion of Mick Jones and the powerhouse drummer of The Clash, Topper Headon.

Earlier in the night, the self-dubbed Carbon Casino played host to three varied support groups, setting the party atmosphere of what promises to be six nights of debauchery. First up, and doubtfully taking part in any decadence, was British Voodoo - a local duo of fresh faced adolescents of about 12, bashing out rough-edged punk whose amateur appeal was rather endearing. Next up was Adam Masterson, solo troubadour with the rasp of Springsteen. His poignant cover of 'Gates Of The West' proved a teaser to all the Clash fans gathered. Lastly was a fleeting appearance from the Rotten Hill Gang, a motley collective of sample-heavy bass throbbing punk hip-hop. Playing between sets was master DJ Gary Crowley, providing a stellar soundtrack of rare dub, reggae, hip-hop, punk and various mash-ups.

The scene was set, and when Carbon/Silicon finally took to the stage, the tiny venue was full to bursting with anticipation.

The core duo of Mick Jones and Tony James had been supplemented by drummer Dominic Greensmith (ex of Reef), and old B.A.D. cohort Leo Williams on bass. The combined sound was a wall of sound tumbling down from the front of the room. Explaining the intentions for the night and the residency, Tony told the crowd: "We'll be playing some old songs, some new songs, some you know, some you don't and some WE don't!"

This ultimately proved true, as Mick continually pulled the band in various unrehearsed directions - at one point reading from a book of Second World War poetry - first to stunned silence, then to a jammed blues accompaniment. Mick's reasoning was to "encourage people to start writing Third World War poetry".

The grooves picked up, and through the duration the musicians locked and started to perfect the songs they began to dust down for the occasion. Songs aired from the debut album, 'The Last Post', included 'Magic Suitcase', 'War On Culture', 'The News', 'Really The Blues' and 'What The Fuck'. Other treats included the download favourites 'I Loved You' and 'The Gangs Of England'. The main set concluded with a storming 'Why Do Men Fight?', injected with band introductions and gleeful solos from both Jones and James - both sporting ear-to-ear grins for the duration of the hour long set.

Spotted in the crowd earlier was Johnny Green, the amiable gentle giant and legendary Clash roadie, accompanied by another familiar face - original Clash drummer and rhythm king, Topper Headon. For those who naively thought he'd merely come to show support to his ex comrade, sudden gasps of astonishment revealed the unbelievable reasons behind his visit - he was introduced on stage for the encore by an obviously delighted Mick Jones.

"What shall we play?" Jones seemed to ask everybody. With a crack of the snare, the unmistakable intro riff to 'Train In Vain' charged into action. The crowd surged forward, cameras and phones held aloft. Topper looked fantastic - the gaunt features as last seen on 'Westway To The World' (whose director, Don Letts, was also present tonight, filming the performance), were gone, and sitting on the drum stool was a strong, much missed and
incredibly healthy looking virtuoso drummer, playing as if his life depended on it. The smile on Mick's face said it all - he was deliriously happy, and admitted almost immediately when the song finished that it was "a dream come true".

"Let's do one more!" Jones exclaims. Invisible question marks arose over every musician's head as they wondered what they could remember, when suddenly from Jones' guitar launched the concrete resounding riff of 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go'. The classic was treated with wild abandon, buoyed on by the delight of everybody present in the room completely in awe of what was happening. At its climax, Topper stood up and humbly caught the wave of adoration flooding out from the crowd, and looked genuinely touched.

"See you next week," Tony James concluded, modestly disregarding the historic occasion that just happened. One suspects that next Friday's Casino is set to be sold-out with hundreds more curious Clash fans eager for a repeat performance, but it's a safe bet it was a one-off. You had to be there.

The Carbon Casino continues until mid-February.


The Carbon Casino Club
The Inn on the Green
3-5 Thorpe Close
Portobello Green
London, WX10 5XL

(Nearest Tube: Ladbroke Grove)

Admittance: £10 on the door - no advance tickets
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