Stiff Little Fingers

Stiff Little Fingers

 – THE RITZ, MANCHESTER –

In a time when not all was glitz and not all was glamour, 1977 gave birth to a little punk band from Belfast called Stiff Little Fingers. Known for their highly political views and raucous attitudes, their music brought unity to those who never belonged and gave a voice to all who were afraid to speak the truth. Northern Ireland was in turmoil, which in turn gave them something to sing about, something to get angry over and a reason to leave.

After several line up changes and several record label swaps, Stiff Little Fingers are here to give us what promises to be a loud and messy show. With those recognisable starting riffs of ‘Wasted Life’, fans echo the raw attitude of frontman Jake Burns as their bodies begin to thrash inside what should later prove to be one of the most energetic 40+ gigs this venue has seen.  Punk rock sing-along ‘Just Fade Away’ is followed by ‘Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae’ and a couple of witty comments about how the band have just arrived from the Brit Awards. “I’ve never been that impressed by the awards,” laughs Jake Burns, “I’ve always been a bigger believer in the power of guitar!” A roar of applause fills the room and  2004’s ‘Guitar and Drum’ gets more attention than I would have expected from a lesser known track.

The energy in the room has only grown since the band came out with a bang. The all-English ‘Fly The Flag’ and 2014’s ‘When We Were Young’ go down a treat with the crowd, to my surprise. It would appear they’ve warmed to the idea of Stiff Little Fingers releasing new material and moving forward from the album which helped them rise to fame. Fair enough. The band can write songs, and good ones at that. “When We We’re Young took the longest to write. Written back in 1985 London when we were told to Fuck Off back to Ireland. It’s about the spirit of rebellion” and the crowd goes wild…

With no breaks needed, SLF continue through their back catalogue of hits. “This is the only love song we ever wrote” and with that, they share the company of their first Du-Wop tune, ‘Barbed Wire Love’, a war-time song about love in No Man’s Land. This Beach Boys-esque tune has been so far one of the most popular with the crowd, until a well-deserved dedication to British ska legends The Specials begins with a reggae-infused guitar track that keeps the audience moving to the feel of a different tune with their rendition of ‘Doesn’t Make It Alright’.

It’s been over 35 years since the release of their legendary debut Inflammable Material and although circumstances have changed and they have mellowed, it was those harsh times and bitter memories that helped shape a band and define an era. Ending the night on a high note with ‘Alternative Ulster’, Stiff Little Fingers have managed to refuel the punk flames from a generation who wouldn’t be told what to do, and one that certainly wouldn’t be told what to say.

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Brit Jean

I'm known as Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester. We're always looking for contributors so if you love music and writing, get in touch with us at Silent Radio! x