I count myself lucky that I managed to see The Clash twice in Montreal when I was growing growing up. The first time was September 1979 on the "Take the Fifth" tour in a 2,000 seat theater, a few months before the release of London Calling. And I saw them again, three years later, in September 1982 on the "Know Your Rights" tour in a slightly bigger venue. But as much as I loved The Clash, they could be a bit hit-or-miss live. Some nights they were tight as a drum and sometimes, well, not so much.
So I had some trepidation as to how good the "Live at Shea Stadium" CD would be. The Clash were starting to come a bit unraveled, having released "Combat Rock" and promptly sacked drummer Topper Headon owing to his out-of-control drug addiction. The Clash had several big stadium gigs opening for The Who on their final tour, including two dates at historic Shea Stadium, just a month after I saw them in a more modest arena.
But rest assured, "Live at Shea Stadium" is a great CD that's representative of The Clash at or near their pinnacle. The recording is soundboard quality, far superior to any bootleg I've heard. And it captures the spirit and energy of a gig that must have been exciting --even terrifying-- for the band. Here they were playing in front of an audience of 70,000 people, an audience far larger than they'd ever had. Highlights include a super funky version of "Magnificent 7," the always trippy "Armagideon Time" and the rousing "Should I Stay or Should I Go" featured below on YouTube. For a band more accustomed to playing smaller arenas, they managed to do a great job filling She Stadium. Though it's a relatively short set of the Clash's most accessible material, the band is in great form for just about every song. Ok, the vocals on "London Calling" and "Guns of Brixton" are a bit weak and Terry Chimes isn't half the drummer Topper Headon is. But overall, it works great.
Bottom line: If you're a Clash fan, pick up "Live at Shea Stadium" and enjoy the memories.