Stiff Little Fingers / Spear of Destiny: Warrington – live review

Stiff Little Fingers / Spear of Destiny
Warrington Parr Hall
9 November 2012

The queue of punters was still snaking down away from the Parr Hall box office when Spear of Destiny struck up the familiar bars of ‘Outlands’.

The fact that it was pissing with rain did little to improve things for those still waiting for the administrative issues to be rectified but these were hardened veterans of the gig scene and the lure of SLF ensured spirits remained high.

When we finally got into the venue, it was clear that the ageless Kirk Brandon was on top form as he launched this joint tour with a mix of older classics and newer material. The atmosphere built as the crowd built to witness a classic climax of ‘Rainmaker’, ‘Mickey’ and ‘Liberator’ which got the venue well and truly rocking and saw Brandon leave the stage to a great ovation.

The stage was now prepared for the entrance of the band that after 35 years still inspires devotion amongst their large and ferociously loyal following. This was evidenced as early as the lights going down and the intro track ‘Go For It’ ringing out as what seemed like the whole venue sang along to this timeless instrumental.

Bounding on stage, SLF opened with ‘Wasted Life’ followed by ‘Just Fade Away’ and ‘At the Edge’ which ensured the mosh pit had plenty to get their teeth into early doors. Jake Burns said that it was always a pleasure to come and play for this crowd and it’s just a shame that the sound quality didn’t match the efforts put in by both band and audience.

Any SLF set-list will be packed with sing-along classics and this was no exception with the likes ‘Nobody’s Hero’, ‘Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae’, ‘Barbed Wire Love’, ’ Silver Lining’ and ‘Straw Dogs’ being played to a crowd that was word-perfect in mass backing vocals. It’s also worth noting how relevant these songs remain to this day and how much they clearly still mean to the packed crowd in Warrington and everywhere SLF play. It’s also a classic SLF ‘V-sign’ to the publicly funded thought police at BBC Radio 1.

Maybe you can’t dictate what music is ‘in’ or ‘out’ and a mixed-age audience at Warrington (as at many gigs by more experienced bands) proved that people are quite capable of deciding for themselves what they enjoy thank you very much. SLF emphasised as much by playing ‘Guitar and Drum’ and Burns’ homage to his inspiration in ‘Strummerville’.

To whet our appetite for the new album which hopefully should arrive next year, the first in 10 years, two new tracks were played, ‘Trail of Tears’ and ‘My Dark Places’ before ‘Tin Soldier ‘ and ‘Suspect Device’ closed the main set. Encores of ‘Johnny Was’, ‘Alternative Ulster’ and ‘Gotta Getaway’ sent the hordes back into the rain rejoicing.

Catch this tour if you can, it’s life–affirming!

All words by Dave Jennings. You can read more from Dave on LTW here.

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