London Calling

by Henrik Tuxen, June 17th 2018

Showtime, now for me as well. There's always something special about seeing your favorite band on your own territory. To call London my own backyard, is a slight exaggeration, but nevertheless just a two hour flight from Copenhagen, and a city I've visited +50 times, for interviews, shows, vacation and others.


First time in 1979 as a school kid with my class. Walking up and down King's Road, soaking in all of the punk movement, same month as The Clash released London Calling, and where I spent all my pockets money on 'at the time' all three released album with The Jam. 'In the City', 'This is the Modern World', and shining, bright, fresh and new 'All Mod Cons'. With my contemporary hero Paul Weller in front, who was 17 when In the City came out, and 22 when he disbanded the group, at a time when they were #1 all over Europe. 'I'm down in the Tube Station at midnight', if you know what I mean. Besides that, swinging London, the 60s, Monty Python and football. London meant everything for a sports'n'music freak kid from Copenhagen, growing up in the 70s.


Judging from Amsterdam, I really dig the feel of the set lists. PJ opened the European Tour with Long Road, which totally brings back the memories from the bands performance in Forum Copenhagen, in 2007. First show in Denmark after the Roskilde tragedy. Long Road, (originally the soundtrack to 'Dead man walking' with close PJ-friends, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, as the lead characters) opened the show. The words said it all.

Second Amsterdam show, opening with Release, followed by Present Tense. What a great spiritual start up, love when they open like that, reminds me of Santiago, 2015.

I know for myself that the band is in a great live shape. The 3-hour show, I saw in Santiago, Chile three months ago, was the band’s first real show (except for induction in Rock 'n' Roll Hall of fame) since Wrigley Fields, 19 months earlier, as shown in 'Let's Play Two'. Rust never sleeps, certainly not when it comes to PJ. They were on fire from first chord, in front of the craziest and most cheering crowd, I almost remember seeing.


'I really enjoyed the show from the first song. Usually it takes one or two shows on a tour, until I'm totally into it. There's always so much stuff to remember, bits and parts, stage set-up to adjust to, but not this time.' Stone G, told me the day after, in Santiago, Chile.

A cool, local security guy, Manuel joined us at the dinner table in the restaurant, and both he and Stone, agreed that everything had been running smoothly at the opening show of the Tour. Except for one thing. During ending song Indifference, Ed skipped a verse, leaving everybody totally confused – band as well as crew – as of how to end the show, 'will there be an extra verse, or what's happening'?. Ed just forgot, that was the plain conclusion. Stone and Manuel laughed their heads of, talking about it.

Another funny thing. It turned out that Manuel had been seeing 80 PJ shows, making Stone puzzled laughing and saying, “I had no idea you were a fan. You've just been around for the last couple of days, acting cool and very professional.”

Well, we spent a long, great night, where I had one of the best meals of my life (some seafood picked by Manuel). I saw the band again two days later at Lollapalooza in the same city, which made me smile from top to bottom. What an incredible smash out, in front of 80,000 die-hard Latin fans, on a great outdoor-Indian-summer-night, in the very center of  Chile's great capital, Santiago. A tough one to beat, but maybe London. The city brings back some great memories for sure.


This will be my third time seeing the band in London. Besides many other things, one of the most significant cities in popular music history.

First time was at the tiny Astoria, the 20th of April, 2006. The bands first show on European soil, following the tragic event at Roskilde Festival, at this point almost six years later. A kinda 'warm-up-fan-club-show' in front of less than 2000 people, I think. My first book of the band had just been released in danish. Also I'd just been to Seattle the month before to interview first Ed, and later Stone and Mike, for the 'Avocado'- album. So all that had happened, and a feel of a present dialogue was very fresh in memory at the time.

Fans had been queuing up outside way before I arrived at the venue, with all ears like glued to the building, due to the bands soundcheck. 'It's crazy, they're rehearsing 'Why Go' one guy screamed, 'they haven't played this song for 11 years'. (true except twice in 2003).  Also I got recognized outside the venue, as 'the guy who wrote the book'. First time that happened.


I brought my friend and college, Signe Glahn, living in London (who was a great editor of the original script of my first PJ book in danish. ) Signe is a passionate music fan, but more in the electronic, alternative direction, than the heavy, grungy style. Still she was partly shocked and excited about the wild crowd reaction, and the power of the band. 'That's what I've been telling you all the time', I told her. Signe got it that night.

Huge backstage action afterwards, in the 'Keith Moon Bar' at Astoria. All band members were there. Remember having a long talk with Ed, who introduced me to someone, as the writer who knew a lot more about him, that he did himself. Just one of those nights you never forget, and a  great an intensive PJ-year for me, starting in Seattle in March, then the Astoria, and later fantastic summer shows, especially Wuhlheide, Berlin.


Three years later I'm back in UK's significant capital, to see the same band, and once again at a special, low key show. This time at historic Shepherds Bush Empire, not at least famous as a key venue in the 60s. This time in company with the Gustafssons – family of Carl-Johan who tragically lost his life at Roskilde Festival year 2000 – and later, and to this day, very close fans of Pearl Jam.

With me was also my girlfriend at the time, also named Signe.

We had special seats, where we realized that Yussuf – formerly Cat Stevens - were smoking joints right beside us. The show was great with guest appearances from Ron Wood, Pete Townshend’s brother Simon, and others. Stone was our fine guide, before and after (he also invited us all to dinner the day before). After the show once again great backstage action, with all band members, except from Ed, present, as I remember it. Lots of fun and great pictures and memories from that show and trip, and of course a killer show. Same period where Backspacer say broad daylight.


So here we go, some pretty great past memories with this city and this band. First London show for me, in a 'naturally' sized venue coming up this Monday. First attending the Wishlist Foundation party, meeting new and old friends, I know this third time round will be great, loving, memorable, mind-blowing and amazing. 

Looking forward to see this great band with all of you fellow music lovers. London Calling, once again.

- Tuxen