2015 saw the 24th edition of Stiff Little Fingers annual St Patricks day gig at Glasgow’s Barrowlands. The venue is a real old school standing only venue in a less than salubrious part of Glasgow’s East End. Frankly both the venue and the area have seen much better days.
This particular gig is no less than legendary among punk fans and it is one that I have always wanted to attend. Sadly a combination of work commitments, distance and a lack of opportunity meant that this was the first time I actually managed to get there.
I met up with some friends and looked forward to a couple of great days of great company and great music. We met up at the hotel and headed off for a few beers before heading down to the East End for the gig. We stayed in the pub a little bit too long and missed the opening act, “Electric River” but we arrived in time to catch the second of the support acts “Love Zombies”.
Love Zombies were good fun in a female fronted,seen it all before, punk band. I enjoyed watching them and they were a good warm up for the main event, but I and most of the crowd were there for Stiff Little Fingers.
After Love Zombies finished the setting up of the stage for SLF seemed to take forever and frankly it should not have taken as long as it did. The delay seemed to cause the atmosphere to go a bit flat. When SLF did emerge the sound was just not up to scratch and this did not help the atmosphere either.
SLF played a very good set-list with songs from across their extensive back catalogue. The opening of the set was strong with a popular trio of songs in “Nobody’s Hero’s,” “At The Edge” and “Roots, Radical’s, Rockers and Reggae.” SLF aficionados will have appreciated a run of lesser known songs that followed the openers but a run of six less well known songs meant that people could be seen drifting off to the bar or the toilet.
I personally love to hear less well known songs but on nights like this people are there to hear their favourites and such a long run of less familiar tunes depressed the atmosphere still further. “Bits of Kids” and “Straw Dogs” lifted the atmosphere a little but it really took to the last couple of songs “Tin Soldiers” and “Suspect Device” before the gig really exploded into life and by then the band were leaving the stage.
SLF returned with a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Peace, Love & Understanding” before finishing the set with “Wasted Life” and “Alternative Ulster” and suddenly it was all over. It was an enjoyable gig with a decent set-list but it didn’t really hit the heights that a St Patricks night gig at Barrowlands deserves.
As we left the venue and headed back down Argyll Street we all felt pretty much the same. A good gig but not one of the best SLF gigs we had seen. No matter I suspect that we will all be back to do it all again next year for the silver anniversary gig.