Putting On The Ritz
There are some bands that just blow you away every time you see them. Stiff Little Fingers are one of those bands. Tonight at Manchester’s ‘Ritz’, the guys were on top form.
This may be just the latest line-up in a long and chequered career, but they have stood the test of time as well as any band from the punk era and they are definitely the pick of the bands to come out of 1977 Northern Ireland (and that’s saying something!!). To see passion, pride, humility, commitment, honesty and enjoyment on the same bill is really something.
‘Wasted Life’ was the opener and from the first chord, it was clear that the audience were in for a treat and rose, to a man, in recognition of a night to remember. This was a 20 song set of the highest quality, interspersed with some anecdotal chatter from Burns for good measure.
Personally, my favourites were many, 'Nobody’s Hero', 'Guilty as Sin', 'My Dark Place', 'Suspect Device' and 'Alternative Ulster'. The latter being the finale to send the heaving, sweaty, audience into the night, with a spring in their step and a smile on their faces.
The one song that stood out above all of those classics was a stupendous rendition of ‘Doesn’t make it alright’. I could have listened to this all night long.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen SLF but they continue to improve with age like a fine wine. Theirs may be a daunting history; and singing about their troubled youth may be a burden to carry, but as long as their fans ensure that they are well received, I’m sure there will be no end to this story.
Well done guys, Manchester salutes you. Forget the glitz and glamour; if it’s live music, it has to be Punk and it has to be Stiff Little Fingers! See you again at Rebellion in the summer...