Veteran Northern Irish punk rockers Still Little Fingers returned to a packed Rock City with a set jammed full of hits.
I got to Rock City just as support band Ricky Warwick and the Fighting Hearts were playing their last song. I liked it, a classic rock tune with a nice punk influence to it. Ricky Warwick is the current lead singer of fellow Irish band Thin Lizzy and at times the song they played reminded me of the early years of the group.
Stiff Little fingers are a band I’ve liked for a few years now. My step-dad introduced me to them and I would always include their song ‘Listen’ on playlists in gigs that I used to organise. I saw them play for the first time two years ago, in a slightly smaller venue in Exeter, and was thoroughly impressed. I remember dancing around in the mosh pit and having to pick up my glasses from the floor on numerous occasions.
This time round I wasn’t as close to the front, but it seemed that throughout different parts of the crowd there was movement and energy straight from the first song. They kicked with ‘Wasted Life’, with fist pumps and shouts of ‘DON’T WANNA WASTE MY LIFE’ setting the tone for the rest of the gig. ‘Roots Radicals, Rockers and Reggae’ got everyone skanking and singing along before kicking into the incredibly catchy ‘Guitar and Drum’.
Lead singer Jake Burns enjoys telling the audience what the songs are about, and with the meaning clearer, the songs become even more powerful. ‘Guilty as Sin’ is about how he watched the news one day about Catholic priests abusing children and couldn’t believe it and that anyone abusing or covering abusers is guilty as sin. Too right. ‘My Dark Places’ was an extremely personal song, with Jake talking about his struggles with depression. What impresses me is that the band uses their shows as a way to express their feelings and views rather than just playing through the songs quickly. This contributes to their likeliness and why they still have such a big following. Admittedly, the audience was mainly made up of middle aged men, but it was great to see some younger people there too, and not just men.
Bassist Ali McMordie offered backing vocals in the only love song they’ve ever written ‘Barbed Wire Love’. SLF are close friends with The Specials, and often cover ‘Doesn’t make it Alright’ at their shows. This time it felt much more significant, due to the sad passing away of their drummer John Bradbury last year. Some older bands will tour purely on the material they’ve released 20 or so years ago. What’s nice with SLF, however, is that this isn’t the case. The songs they played from their 2014 album blended in really well to the set and you weren’t able to tell these songs were released so recently.
The last two songs of the set were ‘Tin Soldiers’ and ‘Suspect Device’ before the band headed off before the encore. Everyone knew that it would be ‘Alternative Ulster’ that they played last and Jake joked with the crowd by only playing the first ten seconds of it before stopping and then playing it in full again. By the end I was sweaty, ears were ringing and I had almost lost my voice from singing along to the songs. An amazing show.
Stiff Little Fingers will be back in Nottingham in July at Splendour Festival, so catch them there if you’re going!