Live in Amsterdam: The Impossible Mission Tour 1981 (Viva Zapata Records V2008)
London Calling/The Leader/Somebody Got Murdered/White Man In Hammersmith Palais/The Guns of Brixton/Lightning Strikes/The Magnificent Seven/Ivan Meets G.I. Joe/Charlie Don’t Surf/Bankrobber/Train In Vain/ Career Opportunities/Clampdown/I Fought The Law (46:36)
When the Clash were at the top of their game, they could go toe to toe with any of the greats of rock and this disk stands as the proof. Recorded when “Sandinista” was still current, and relying heavily on material from three-record set, the concert here, while short, is dynamic, punchy and very nicely recorded. The band’s sense of dynamism comes from the tempos, which seem almost universally faster than the album versions, even “Career Opportunities” which comes across just as snappily and ferociously as their first album if such a thing can be imagined.
The extra urgency which pervades all the songs with this faster approach gives the concert a drive which is hard to resist. Adding to the value is the recording, which is very high quality. Unlike another recent Viva Zapata recording of the boys’ concert in Boston, this disk is almost perfectly balanced, without domination by the drums and bass. The mid-range is right there, with Joe’s rhythm and Mick’s lead playing audible at all times and both singers were in top form this night, hardly a flat note between them (again, a real problem with the Boston concerts a year later).
This praise seems a little odd since the Sandinista material was not uniformly their best, and relied too much on reggae and other styles but the strength and leave it all on the stage approach overcomes any weakness in the material. Sadly, this probably represents the last pinnacle for the group. Relatively soon after this concert, Topper Headon’s ferocious drumming was gone, and Mick and Joe split for good about a year later. But sometimes, the fire burns brightest just before it goes out and whoever did such a good job capturing this fire did us all a huge favor.