Joe Strummer and The Mescalaros - Manchester Academy - 17.11.01

Its hard when you've been in a successful band to branch out on your own so its predictable that Joe Strummer still gets a load of flack for his solo work. It must be my age but I'm not one of those detractors who complained when the Sex Pistols reform or when Strummer plays the old Clash tracks...I'd probably be as precious about my childhood heroes but I can't see a point when either the Manics or the Levellers split up just yet so the idea of them reforming frankly is laughable. Its good to see that some people still hold the Joe Strummer and the Clash in high esteem as I'm sure Goldblade or that guy who used to dance in the Roses would tell you. Its great to see that some people hate this dreaded acoustic malarkey going around like a bad dose of the clap in Manchester.

The Mescalaros continue with Strummers love of punk and reggae and mix it up with what can only be described as world music. Its got a bad rep and rightfully so if you've ever sat through an entire show of Giles Peterson's but somehow Strummer mixes up the atmosphere of the football terraces with an almost limitless record collection avoiding all accusations as an eccentric arse. Even down to the selection of Clash songs ("Rudi Can't Fail", "The Call Up" and "Bankrobber") its a case of if it doesn't fit then I'm not chucking it in for nostalgia reasons. After all it would have been so easy to play "Should I Stay or Should I Go" or "Rock The Casbah" and have the crowd in the palm of his hand, but that would have meant admitting that his new material isn't up to scratch which is so far from the truth. As the conversation on the bus home seems to indicate it would seem like most of the crowd are there for his Mescalaros material as for the old Clash songs and for one I'll be straight down the stores to grab a copy.

There's not many people who can push those wild frontiers and still have the crowd waiting with baited breath for more. God knows how many times David Bowie has tried to appear relevant over the past decade and Strummer simply walked on stage and pissed on the current rock scene from a great height. The Manics always go on about their love of the Clash yet they've never deviated from the standard rock formula - does it take a punk from the 70s to show the world just what blokes with guitars can do or will you still wait for yet another unlistenable Radiohead album. The future's your so i'll leave it up to you to  decide!!!

Alex McCann