The atmosphere was very different from other gigs. For a start the lights were all completely on - a bit like you’d expect at the end of a school disco! There were small groups of people milling round greeting each other, moving on, chilling out in the seats in the tiled area by the side bar. All in all a very cool and laid back manner which was a trend of many punk gigs prior to the band getting on stage.
I was there with an old mate from school, Paul Eaves, and he had arranged to meet another friend - a” real punk” - there. This friend, who I think was called Trevor, was seriously into the whole scene and had turned up resplendent in a combat suit as worn by Joe Strummer and the Clash. He knew everything about The Clash album there was to know.
We had a few beers - Breaker malt liquor was the usual poison - and then the gig started. In hindsight it was an incredible line-up.
On first were the Slits. They lasted approximately 10 minutes before being glassed (plastic) off the stage. Their sound was appalling. It was later blamed on the sound system. I’ve heard them since and this claim was very justified. However, I can’t help thinking that this was the punk public’s way of saying “Let’s get to the meat of the gig.”
Next on were Subway Sect - fast, great energy - over in 20 minutes to make way for the Buzzcocks - frenetic pre- “Fallen in Love With” angst with real similarities to the Damned.
Then on came the Clash. With one album,The Clash, under their belt they thrashed through it almost song by song, finishing up with “White Riot” again as an encore. They were very, very raw.
Don’t get me wrong - the Clash are probably my favourite genre band, and they always majored on their raw edge, but this was so far from any of the subtleties of any later album that you could feel the hurt. An unforgettable experience.”
No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones in 1977.
There is a black and white video on YouTube of the Clash performing two days before the West Runton gig at the University of Sussex HERE. The gig was billed to be at the Polytechnic, as you can see below, but due to ticket demand the venue was moved. There is also footage of the Slits and Subway Sect on this student video but it is cut with footage of the Adverts and the Damned who performed at the same venue the next week. And no Buzzcocks. Interestingly though it does show a different backdrop to the normal White Riot tour one of running police from the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival disturbances.
The Clash came to West Runton on May 27th 1977, as part of their White Riot tour. The Jam appeared on some of the pre-tour posters but they pulled out before this gig. The Slits, Subway Sect and the Buzzcocks remained on the tour.
To the left is a review of the night from Norwich zine "Vomit." Below, Rob Aherne’s thoughts about the gig from "What Flo Said":