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Stiff Little Fingers, 14.3.22

Monday night saw Irish punk rock veterans, Stiff Little Fingers, performing at Rock City and they took the crowd on a trip down memory lane.

But first on the line-up was T.V. Smith, a founding member, singer and songwriter for The Adverts, who formed in late 1976 and became one of the leading bands in the first wave of British punk rock. For this set it was just him and his acoustic guitar to entertain the early arrivals and that is exactly what he did. Opening with No Time To Be 21 from The Adverts 1978 debut album, Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, he had the attention of the crowd.

Tomahawk Cruise has a driving beat but this being an acoustic version it was a little tame. Lockdown Holiday was obviously written during the pandemic and No Hope Street was delivered with real power and venom. Gary Gilmore’s Eyes was played to those who remembered it and to end his spot he closed with the classic One Chord Wonders and received cheers of approval from the swelling crowd. For the whole of his short set, he had the crowd firmly in the palm of his hands.

The Professionals were next to take the stage, a band created from the ashes of The Sex Pistols by drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones, who was later replaced by Tom Spencer. For this set there was real palatable excitement to see the punk icon play the drums and they were not disappointed. Opener Easily Lead from their latest album SNAFU saw Cook pounding the drums as though his life depended upon it.

Just Another Dream was followed By Going, Going, Gone, which showcased Toshi’s creative bass lines and with Spencer’s vocals exactly on point backed up by Toshi and McCormack, the crowd were soon pogo-ing along to the punk rock riffs and catchy lyrics. Cook was a power house on drums throughout especially on Spike Me Baby and Payola whilst a Sex Pistols cover, Silly Thing had the whole crowd singing along. 1-2-3 and (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone brought their set to a close and had the crowd in full voice.

Out of the darkness came the sounds of the unmistakable instrumental Go For It which has become a sing along in its own right before the stage came to life with a mass of florescent colours and the band burst into opener Suspect Device.

And from then on they rampaged through a set list with songs that they delivered with an absolute passion. At The Edge, Fly The Flag and Hope Street saw front man Jake Burns’ fantastic and melodic voice still on point especially as he led breathlessly into Nobody’s Hero.

And with the band bringing their sound right up to date with crisp drumming from Steve Grantley, brilliant bass playing from Ali McMordie and the twin guitars from both Burns and Ian McCallum, they have an authentic punk sound that is best heard live, with songs like State Of Emergency and Wasted Life which are fist pumping anthems.

There were plenty of fans favourite bangers ready to fire out in quick succession such as Liar’s Club, When We Were Young, Safe As Houses and the Clash inspired Strummerville which was a particular highlight.

When they closed their main set with Gotta Gettaway there was a full bloodied sing along for which the crowd needed no prompting as bodies went flying. Encore songs Tin Soldiers and set closer Alternative Ulster saw the band kick it all up a notch and the whole crowd were united with a mass sing along.

Delivering a tight set list, Stiff Little Fingers still have plenty to say. Definitely the best punk band around since The Clash, they are veterans that are still at the top of their game.

Editor of LLR since 2005

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