LONDON (Reuters) - The architects of British punk have been quietly passing on the baton to a new generation in a tiny London bar, but the secret is out and about to hit America.
Founding members of the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Generation X and a collection of young bands have revived the spirit of 1970s London punk rock at a series of small gigs in the Clash’s old stomping grounds in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood.
Clash founding member Mick Jones has returned to his roots and, judging by the six-week residency at the packed out Inn On The Green, is staying true to his punk ideals.
Fronting his latest band Carbon/Silicon with Tony James, formerly of Generation X, the pair have used a regular ticketless Friday night rock extravaganza to promote a string of local bands many of whom can’t be a day older than 15.
For just 10 pounds ($20) at the bar door, teenage bands like the Sandanistas belt out covers of the Clash’s “White Riot” and “Magnificent Seven” to a 150-capacity crowd as Jonesy, clearly enjoying himself, dances in the audience.
“We wanted to do something for local acts, local talent,” said Tony James, calmly rubbing shoulders with fans at the bar ahead of a recent gig.
“We’d never of thought it was gonna be like this!” a beaming Mick Jones dripping with sweat tells a mostly 40-something rapturous crowd who queued around the block to get in.
His band, then storms through songs laced with Clash-style riffs and harmonies from Carbon/Silicon’s first commercially available album released last year.
And there are surprises for old punk aficionados too. Lots of them.
The first show saw ex-Clash drummer Nicky “Topper” Headon take to the stage for encores of Clash classics “Train in Vain” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” It was the first time the pair had played together for 25 years.
Subsequent nights have seen the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock and Paul Cook step up from the audience to do show stoppers like the Pistols’ cover of “Stepping Stone.”
Other guests have included Manchester’s punk poet John Cooper Clarke, who regularly opened for the Pistols, Buzzcocks and Joy Division during the 1970s; Liverpool’s Pete Wylie from Wah!, and even members of The Pogues.
Don Letts, film director and musician, credited with fusing punk and reggae when DJing at the infamous Roxy club in London in the 1970s, films the shows.
In between numerous local acts, like the colorful Rotten Hill Gang, playing a mash up of rap, dub and rock, and talented buskers whipped off the street by Mick Jones, BBC DJ Gary Crowley spins vinyl on the decks.
Carbon/Silicon play a final ticketless seventh show, dubbed “a spectacular finale” at the Inn On The Green on Friday ahead of their first 19-date North American tour in March and April.
Full venue details for the shows are available on Carbon/Silicon's official website here
(Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; editing by Paul Casciato)