Justice Tonight @ Cardiff Uni Solus 01/12/11

Justice Tonight

To paraphrase the lyricism of Alain Boubill, “I dreamed a dream”, a dream where revolution rocker Mick Jones brought an ad hoc lineup of politically charged musos to grace the stage at the Cardiff University Solus. Hang on, it actually happened!

Watching opening act Wibidi from the merchandise stand I take in the influx of punters descending on the Solus. A mixture of punk edge and terrace chic is abundant, a coalition of hardcore music lovers and football fanatics have come to witness this rare treat, the allignment of Mick Jones, Pete Wylie, The Farm and James Dean Bradfield.

Tonight these cult heroes have come together for one cause, Justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield is the first special guest of the tour, an unquestionable choice having penned ‘South Yorkshire Mass Murderer’, as well as being a Nottingham Forest fan.

Following a brief conversation at side stage with rock journo supremo John Robb, tonight’s compere, he rushes on stage to introduce The Farm.

The cult Merseyside band play a greatest hits set, which goes down a storm. The bombastic half hour or so featuring classics ‘Groovy Train’, ‘Stepping Stone’ and of course the terrace anthem ‘All Together Now’ – queue the first of many crowd driven sing alongs.

During The Farm’s set Mick Jones, in a baby blue teddy boy suit, makes a fleeting appearance at side stage taking time to sign autographs and pose for photographs.

Up next is Mighty Wah front man Pete Wylie, bringing a handful of hits and a healthy dose of Scouse banter. ‘The Day That Margaret Thatcher Died’ goes down particularly well with the crowd, as does ‘Come Back’ featuring James Dean Bradfield’s first appearance of the night.

Coolly taking to the stage Mick straps on his gleaming white Les Paul and bursts into ‘Train In Vain’, moments like this make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up; it’s not often you get to stand a few feet away from one of the pioneers of the punk movement.

‘Bankrobber’ is sang with serious integrity by Farm vocalist Peter Hooton followed by the strikingly apt ‘Armagideon Time’ – the refrain “A lot of people won’t get no justice tonight”  still echoing through the ages.

James Dean Bradfield joins The Clash for a brief moment, becoming Joe Strummer for an explosive rendition of ‘Clampdown’. The intensity of Bradfield’s performance is arresting, and it’s clear to see the sheer thrill he is experiencing whilst performing with Mick; one of the seminal influences on the Manics, both musically and politically.

The opening chords of ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go‘ ring out from Mick’s guitar and a wall of elated screams pour from the crowd, queue a 3 minute pogo-a-thon.

As I watch Mick unleash yet more classic Clash songs on the awestruck crowd, images of the Anti Nazi League gig, Victoria Park, 1978 come to mind. The passion and the integrity is there, music lovers coming together to unite against oppression. The climax to the gig is encore ‘Janie Jones’, delivered at machinegun pace to a rapturously rabid crowd.

The spirit of punk is still alive, and tonight it is evident, from original generation Clash fans to teenage upstarts. Many will say “I was there”, but only a handful can actually lay claim to witnessing this mind-blowing spectacle.

Jarrad ‘Nöir’ Owens


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