Once again it has been a busy weekend of concert going. Friday night (February 26) saw me make the one-hour trip along the motorway to see my all-time favourite band. It is no exaggeration to say that Stiff Little Fingers changed my life.
The Belfast punk-rock movement of the mid-late 1970’s gave me the courage to get the hell out of Northern Ireland at the height of the “troubles” and I never looked back. As a result songs like “Alternative Ulster” and “Suspect Device” have always been dear to my heart and so have the Stiff Little Fingers.
Back in March last year I made the 1000 mile round trip from Poole to Glasgow for what should have been an epic two nights of entertainment in Glasgow’s Barrowlands. St Patricks Day saw Stiff Little Fingers play the venue and the following evening Drop Kick Murphy’s and The Mahone’s brought the Celtic Punk Invasion Tour to Glasgow. Sadly Barrowlands lived up to it’s reputation for awful sound quality and over the two nights you could barely tell one band from the other much less distinguish between songs. Without question these gigs were the worst sound quality I have ever heard.
By contrast the sound at Portsmouth’s Pyramid centre is never less that perfect and so it proved on Friday. Ricky Warwick’s band played a lengthy opening set which was full of energy and high-quality rock music. Whilst I am aware of Ricky’s work with Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders this was the first time I had seen him with his own band. I was impressed, it was good old-fashioned power rock and I enjoyed it immensely.
I was a little concerned to hear that Stiff Little Fingers Jake Burns had taken ill after the opening night of the tour the previous evening so it was with some trepidation that we awaited Stiff Little Fingers appearance. Jake did allude to the fact that he had spent most of the day throwing up so that probably explains why we had a lightly shorter than normal set.
In total we had about 75 minutes and 19-songs but what we did get was awesome. Jake may not have been as animated as usual but Ali McMordie and Ian McCallum more than made up for that. As you would expect the bulk of the set featured the bands most popular songs from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s heyday and it was an excellent set.
It is perhaps dispiriting to find that many of Stiff Little Fingers songs are just as relevant now as when they were written over 30 years ago. We live in a different era, an era where we should perhaps be even more angry, about the state of the country and the state of the world, than we were when the punk movement exploded. We need to recharge our activism and direct our anger. A visit to a Stiff Little Fingers gig is a great reminder of the injustices we face. It is always amazing to see people from all walks of life united under the banner of punk rock.
If Stiff Little Fingers are playing anywhere near you make an effort to get out and see them. You won’t regret it