The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Stiff Little Fingers - Live Review
March 29th 2016

Stiff Little Fingers

It may have taken Stiff Little Fingers till their 40th year to play a club show in Perth (their only other appearance being at Soundwave's last Perth outing a few years back) but judging by the near capacity crowd it's been worth the wait for some.


Perth punk favorites Leeches opened the night with their more straight forward, no bullshit punk rock. Despite their self-depricating banter on stage to the crowd, they were nonethless the only band fit for openers for Stiff Little Fingers and the crowd appreciated the non-serious tone and the music together. Sometimes bordering on thrash metal to balancing on surf rock, Leeches pelted the crowd with short bursts of tracks from their back catalogue, a highlight including "Fuckhead", introduced hilariously as Born and Bred Fuckhead (sic) which got a few in the crowd chuckling. Hey, what do you expect? This is punk rock.

Next up were The Caballeros who funnily enough, I had just seen recently and despite the obvious The Hives connection, they were pretty damn entertaining. The singer is as flamboyant as you can get which is kind of what you want at a rock show, far from being insular but ready to dance and mess around with the audience. This set wasn't as exciting as when I saw them the first time around but being a bigger venue and a support act for a band that everyone was pretty much here for, it was just a different vibe altogether. Musically it may not be everyones cup of tea but when you give 100 percent to the performance like these guys, you gotta at least appreciate that.

It's not often I arrive at a gig these days and feel young, but looking at the bald heads and wrinkles of half the audience tonight I do. Most of these guys would have been there since ground zero it seems but it's also cool to see some young kids in there and a few of us in those in-between years.

With a band with such a huge legacy and still writing new material tonight's setlist was always going to be a balancing act between letting people hear the new (that is after all remarkably strong still) and relive their (probably wasted) youths through listening to the songs of what I consider to be Punk's finest band.

If you want to get a gig started on the right foot then opening with 'It's about time we played Perth and launching into 'Wasted Life' and 'Just Fade Away' after the familiar intro of 'Go For It' takes some beating. It's early doors by three songs in the entire crowd is moving and singing along, word for word. And by the time we're due a breath 'Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae' stokes things up again.

Of course SLF isn't all about that golden period between the late seventies and mid-eighties as the power of 'Guitar and Drum's' almost Motown-driven pop number proves SLF's best days aren't necessarily all behind them. Five songs in I get goosebumps as Jake and co launch into 'Nobody's Hero' - now that chorus is surely one of rock's greats!

Taking it down with SLF's only "love song" 'Barbed Wire Love' and the dynamics of the wonderful 'Listen' which surreally sees a bare-chested rather portly bald gentleman of a certain age attempt to shake this 'thang' with the entire room largely in time with the music before he disappears forwards as we kick into 'Doesn't make it Alright'.

SLF have always had something to say, whether it be about the troubles in the early days in their native Northern Ireland or more broadly about class, corruption and boredom. "The next songs are about the abuse of power in government which should be working for us not taking first step on corporate ladder", Jake tells us before launching into what I always thought was one of SLF's most perceptive songs: 'Silver Lining', and though lyrically I guess it was written from a "class divide" point of view it's equally poignant now as a critique on religion and capitalism and what keeps us all down.

No one has a right to write lyrics that perceptive: "Just be good and know your station always look on the bright side. Keep your faith and keep your patience your reward is after you've died" and "The people who are on top say that you should keep your chin up, and they are keen to show you the unhappy ones below you - But I want to more of that stuff that's looking at it upside down" but it's all part of what makes SLF so special.

The 'Bush and Blair influenced 'Liars Club' is a nice bit of social commentary too and it's good to see the crowd getting into the newer songs as well as the old.

'At the Edge' of course is one of SLF's most iconic songs (and it's refrain is echoed later in a track from the latest album 'When We Were Young') and reinvigorates the crowd before a touching tribute to Joe Strummer of the Clash in 'Strummerville' before Jake touches on a song about depression 'My Dark Places' which he urges us "For fucks sake talk about it".

'Fly the Flag' goes down well too alongside 'When We were Young' from the latest album which comes with a story about a drunken night with Phil Lynott back in 1985 where the first verse of the song was scribbled down.

Now if you wonder about how good SLF is and what an influence they have had on music then the last two songs of the main set and the encores say it all really. They close with 'Tin Soldiers' and 'Suspect Device' with the chilling and very foreboding lyric "they take away our freedom in the name of liberty" in these days of the our western government's data-mining and surveillance of their own citizens, it's also perfect punk.

After little ado a hot and sticky room is treated to one of the best encores you'll hear 'Johnny Was' the Bob Marley cover has had people shouting for it all night and it is played perfectly tonight before the raucous refrain of 'Gotta Get Away' has everyone in the place singing along. But how else could you end other than with 'Alternative Ulster' which still sounds so fresh and bitter 40 years on.

The rest of Australia is in for a huge treat when SLF get to town. One of the most iconic bands of the punk era prove why they were so important, sp perceptive and so damned essential and still are. Long live SLF...

1. Go for It
2. Wasted Life
3. Just Fade Away
4. Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae
5. Guitar and Drum
6. Nobody's Hero
7. Barbed Wire Love
8. Listen
9. Doesn't Make It Alright (The Specials cover)
10. Silver Lining
11. Liar's Club
12. At the Edge
13. Strummerville
14. My Dark Places
15. Fly the Flag
16. When We Were Young (with at the Edge)
17. Tin Soldiers
18. Suspect Device

1. Johnny Was
2. Gotta Gettaway
3. Alternative Ulster



Tuesday March 29 - Perth - Capitol
Wednesday March 30 - Adelaide - The Gov
Thursday March 31 - Melbourne - 170 Russell
Friday April 1 - Sydney - Metro
Saturday April 2 - Brisbane - Triffid

Tickets and tour details can be found at

Photo Gallery - click to enlarge

Review by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie and The Buffman
Photos by The Buffman