Stiff Little Fingers – live review

Live from the moshpit with a lager in his hand a song in his heart review from Dermo and Punk Girl Candy

The last time I saw Stiff Little Fingers was in the Academy Two in Manchester a couple of years ago, I thought they were on form that night but last night they smashed the same venue, completely blew the roof off!…I’ve no idea why they played this smaller venue because they could have sold it out twice over!…I’m writing this with an hangover from hell but it’s completely worth it…I’ve been a massive SLF fan for thirty years and seen them loads of times and yes of course they’re my favourite band, but so what, I’m only saying what I and a thousand others heard and saw…

SLF at the Academy Two is the perfect venue for the annual family gathering of Fingers Fans.Why? the dance floor is fully sprung, the bars are fully stocked and the merchandise is fully loaded with the best gear from the punk bands touring today! Harrington jackets, polo shirts- Fred Perry style, Rugby shirts, Bomber jackets, girlie vests, SLF plastic bags to name but a few. All the usual suspects come out to play for this and catching up is one of the reasons so many people turn up early. Downstairs proper studded-up punx were playing pool with some ten year old kids and in the girls bogs, hair-style tip swapping was fierce! All this before the gig even started. At most gigs it’s only a few feet at the front that sway, jump and crowd-surf. At SLF however this scene is more like three quarters of the way back in the whole venue. Speaks volumes about the loyalty SLF have.

This was the second to last gig on the tour but the band showed no signs of waning. Steve had the energy of a teenager and Ian was doing that jumping ”“scissors-leg thing that all the best rockers do. Jake was holding court with all the majesty of The King of PUNX and Ali had the girlies surging at the front like a bald Elvis…In a nutshell, this is our annual punk family get together….

The Fingers seem to play with an even more blistering intensity these days, I think part of that is down to the return of Ali Mcmordie on bass duties (taking back the role from Bruce Foxton who did a great job for fifteen years) who is the instigator in getting the crowd pogoing like a frenzied mob, he plays like a demon and claps along in all the right places….

From the backing track intro of the mighty instrumental that is ‘Go For It’ everybody in the room and I mean everybody, knew they were in for something special tonight. I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the progress of the tour on the SLF facebook page and checking out the recent you tube vids/reviews etc and the fans responses have been phenomenal. So as soon as the set opener ‘Roots’ kicks in, the place erupted!…

Jake was on fine form, chatting with the crowd before introducing each song……

They still play with a passion that new bands can only dream of tonights set is played at a frantic pace that only slows down a touch for the lead track off the ‘£1.10 or Less E.P’ that is ‘Listen’…air punching along to the chorus is mandatory.
Jake slams Simon Cowell and the rest of the fake industry and then introduces ‘Harp’ as a fuck off to anyone who’s racist towards the Irish which gets another massive cheer. ‘Steam’… ‘Can’t Get’… ‘Hope St’ and ‘Strummer’ all sit in the set comfortably and are received like old favourites…
They play ‘At The Edge’ then the rare treat that is ‘Straw Dogs’ followed by ‘Barbed Wire Love’ which is always the focus of laughter as it breaks down in the middle to become a doo wop sing along before the venomous ‘guitars and drum’ kick back in…Next up is ‘Wasted Life’ ( which to me is the best B Side ever written) and crackles with pure anger keeping the sparks flying.Then ‘it’s ‘Nobodys Hero’ ‘Wasted Life’ ‘Fly The Flag’ ‘Tin Soldiers’ all belted out to the ever increasingly happy crowd. I spent most of the gig pressed against the barrier at the front and heard the crowd sing every word to every song with myself included. Live gigs don’t come any better than this and so they finish with their cover of Marley’s ‘Johnny Was’ which they have made completely their own since it debuted on ‘Inflammable Material’ and has the crowd clapping along like the FA Cup Final at Wembley then they’re gone…Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Yep they return and take the roof off again with my all time favourite song ‘Alternative Ulster’…there still isn’t a song anywhere that sends shivers down my spine (and I’m sure I’m speaking on behalf of the thousand strong audience when I say this) like that intro always has and always will…then all four of the band Jake, Ali, Steve and Ian take a bow to the roars of approval and disappear.

After the gig I went upstairs to meet the band have a quick chat, they sign my set list that my mate Wozza lifted for me and Candy very kindly takes photos. Jake seems really tired (no surprise really) but all four are courteous and cool as fuck..Ali throws me a can of lager, I swig that and am then gone myself after wishing them ‘all the best’ for the final gig of this very successful tour which is at Nottingham’s Rock City tonight….Come back to Manchester soon is my last thought…Punks dead but we’re still dying and I’ll always be a rigid digit fan til the day I die…Hanx!

Set List:
Intro – Go For It
Roots Radicals Rockers And Reggae
Hope St
At The Edge
Guitar And Drum
Just Fade Away
Full Steam Backwards
Straw Dogs
Barbed Wire Love
Can’t Get
Nobodys Hero
Wasted Life
Fly The Flag
Tin Soldiers
Suspect Device


Johnny Was
Law And Order (Not Played)
Alternative Ulster

Special thanks to Punk Girl Candy who contributed heavily to this review and the night ..


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