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LIVE: Stiff Little Fingers – Perth, 15 Feb, 2020

| 20 February 2020 | Reply

LIVE: Stiff Little Fingers – Perth, 15 Feb, 2020
Supported by The Spurts and Stumped Punx
Rosemount Hotel, Perth, Western Australia – Saturday, 15th February, 2020
Review & photography by Pete Gardner

Saturday night and the Rosemount is jam packed to the rafters with Perth punks, a large majority of whom are well into their 50’s, all determined to have a fantastic night with Belfast’s finest punk band, Stiff Little Fingers.

Celebrating 42 years since the release of their debut Inflammable Material, Stiff Little Fingers kicked off their Australian tour with original band members Jake Burns on guitar and vocals and Ali McMordie on bass are joined by the current line up of Ian McCallum on guitar and Steve Grantley on drums. One of the original and best punk bands delivered a night of great music to a raucous gathering of the faithful, albeit with a few roadbumps along the way

A good sized early crowd, already oiled up with plenty of beer, are jostling for pole position on the barrier by the time Perth band Stumped Punx kick off the night. Playing their first show in two years, with guitarist Curt Hains just flown in from Melbourne for the gig that day. The band are decidedly unrehearsed and surprisingly good fun – since when has musical finesse been a hallmark of good Punk? With some self deprecating banter, and a good fistful of fast punk numbers including a cover of the Queers’ I’m OK, You’re Fucked, the early crowd and the band have a great time. Finishing the set with Sinking Ship, and a shout of “lets crash this motherfucker,” Stumped Punx thrash out their last number leaving the crowd nicely warmed up.

After a quick changeover Perth garage punkers The Spurts delivered a decidedly mixed set, the keys and psychedelic shredding guitar giving a late 60’s LSD-addled vibe to the set I imagine The Doors on speed! Singer Blake goes shirtless with his jug of beer in hand, while the band powered through songs such as Diamond Nights, extolling the joys of polyamory, I Don’t Suck Cock for Drugs, and Pogo In The Basement, regaling the story of a friendly neighbourhood serial killer. All the while the audience hands our vocalist jugs of beer, which he happily chugs down between songs. The keys and unique guitar style combination make the set worth listening to, and besides the dubious song material, The Spurts are worth seeking out again next time they play.

By now the Rosemount is packed solid, and as the intro tape of the classic instrumental Go For It plays, the crowd are in good voice chanting along with the music.

Stiff Little Fingers take the stage and drive straight into the Bunny Wailer cover Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae. The crowd are in fine form with a large number of 50-somethings reliving their punk youth like its 1981 again, moshing and pogoing in a seething mass. I cant help feeling there will be some sore backs and hips as well as sore heads in the morning.

As the beer predictably starts flying, a fair amount lands on the stage (I certainly got well showered in the photo pit) Burns suddenly cuts Nobody’s Hero dead, stopping the band mid song and yells at the crowd that if anyone throws anything else at the stage he is off and, “you lot can fuck off out of here!”

Over the next couple of hours Stiff Little Fingers deliver an energetic set lifted mostly from their seminal debut, Burns however really doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself, yelling at his tech on stage as technical issues with his guitar cause it to drop out and the bass to feedback.

Amidst the classics the band play one new song, 16 Shots, about a young kid shot dead by the police in Burns’ current home town of Chicago. The song is classic Fingers, as strong as any material on the early albums and shows Burns can still deliver excellent songwriting four decades into his career.

Suspect Device kicks the crowd off into another pogoing frenzy, and the band keep up the pace as they power through hit after hit. Without warning, just as the band are getting to the end of Barb Wire Love, Burns suddenly cuts the band dead again, yells, “that’s it! I fucking warned you about throwing beer!” and storms of the stage taking the rest of the band with him.

It seems the atmosphere in the room is about to turn ugly, as the crowd wonders if the band will return, or if this is all an act. Eventually things start to settle down and a chant of “Fingers!” starts up. Several minutes later one of the stage crew comes out and tells the crowd to, “keep your heads and respect the guys.” Burns eventually returns to the stage and yells, “next time some cowardly fuck throws a beer at the stage, were off and you can all fuck off!”

The gig resumes, and despite having a face like thunder, Burns and the guys play a brilliant rendition of the Bob Marley classic Johnny Was, easily the highlight of the night, including some sublime guitar work from Burns, and sheer brilliance from McMordie on bass – he of course being pretty much the best punk bass player of his generation. The set finishes with a no holds barred Alternative Ulster, and returning after the encore break with Gotta Gettaway. Sadly Tin Soldiers, which was on the setlist, didn’t get a play – either due to lost time in the set, or Burns just wanted to get out of there.

Maybe the veteran frontman was jetlagged, accounting for his mood, but except for the obvious danger of mixing beer and powercords, I was at a loss why a seasoned campaigner and one of the original punk rockers took such offence at a bit of flying beer. Tantrums aside, Stiff Little Fingers delivered a great set, and the crowd had a brilliant night. 42 years after the release of Inflammable Material, Stiff Little Fingers are still delivering the goods.

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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