Stiff Little Fingers return to the North East of England almost a year to the day since their last visit to the region.
Formed during the punk rock renaissance of the late 70s, Stiff Little Fingers stood side by side with many of the genre’s greats including the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam and the Buzzcocks, to name but a few. The band became widely regarded for using their music as a vessel to channel their anger and frustration of growing up in Northern Ireland during the height of The Troubles.
Stiff Little Fingers have remained largely active since 1977 despite a brief separation during the early to mid-80’s as well as having had a few lineup changes along the way. This year the band are celebrating their 40th anniversary and as such have taken to the road to celebrate this landmark event in their history.
Subsequently, the anticipation for tonight’s show at the O2 Academy Newcastle is so high that it has long since been sold out. Upon arrival at the venue, many of the audience in attendance reminisce over SLF concerts they have witnessed during the last forty years; they swap tales of shows gone by and their first encounters with the band in their youth.
Despite the band’s front man Jake Burns harbouring flu for the days running up to the show, nothing is going to stop the band from giving 110% this evening. Stiff Little Fingers have strong ties to the North East with Burns having spent almost 15 years living in the area, along with guitarist Ian McCallum having been born in the city, the Geordies obviously give the band a warm welcome.
You would be hard pushed to find a concert atmosphere which is comparable to an SLF show, their fans are fiercely loyal and are here to have a good time no matter what. From the second “Go For It” rolls, which is of course, the band’s unmistakable intro tape, the fans know just what awaits them. The floor starts to vibrate as a result of fierce pogoing and chanting. There is a celebratory feel in the room and from this point forth that electricity does not subside for a single second.
The band takes to the stage with a triple whammy of numbers from the beginning of their career. They start their largely greatest hits set rather fittingly with “Breakout” from their debut album Inflammable Material, before belting through “Straw Dogs” and “Just Fade Away”. Burns informs the audience that they intend to play a bit longer than usual in order to pack in as much material as they can from the band’s extensive discography spanning ten studio albums, of which the crowd obviously has no objections.
As the fans would want and expect the band’s set comprises of the obvious big hitters like “At The Edge”, “Nobody’s Hero” and “Barbed Wire Love”, which are in turn coupled with deep cuts and rarities like “Safe As Houses” and “Roaring Boys”. The band also pay tribute to some of their fallen friends and influences such as Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott during “When We Were Young”, which took almost twenty years for Burns to complete and The Clash’s Joe Strummer during “Strummerville”. The latter of which is a poignant tribute to the great man himself.
As the band hurtle towards the finish line, they continue to wheel out fan favourites like “Tin Soldier” and “Wasted Life”, before the band closes out their main set with a frantic rendition of the classic “Suspect Device”.
Stiff Little Fingers return to the stage for two duly deserved encores which include their groove heavy take on Bob Marley’s “Johnny Was” before the night is brought to a close with the anthemic “Alternative Ulster”, by this point even those at the back of the balcony are up on their feet.
This evening Stiff Little Fingers take a retrospective look back on their career and just like good whisky, this band just seems to get better with age. Here’s to the next chapter in their history, and many more landmarks to come.
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Event Date: 24-MAR-2017