It’s hard to get motivated to venture out late on a weeknight – especially on Tuesday. But with Stiff Little Finger’s cold hard power ready to rock your punk world, you knew you were bound to be in for a killer night. And boy did they put on a show.
Leeches opened up the evening by kicking the punk vibe well into gear. Local boys The Caballeros followed next; suited up in identical black pants, crisp white shirts and school-boy ties. Frontman Jake “Dr Green” England flaunted style, character and attitude, and the 5-piece threw themselves into a rockabilly-frenzy with The Floors’ Luke Dux filling in on guitar. The Caballeros played their new single Call the Doctor which was lapped up by the crowd and they launched into other catchy tracks including a cover of American Ruse and their latest single, Another Day. Finishing up with England reving the crowd for “the twist, the Caballeros twist“, the band were energetic and fun – creating the perfect atmosphere to get you hyped for the main act.
If you’re a fan of the Northern Ireland act Stiff Little Fingers, you’d know what you’re getting yourself into at one of their gigs. A mix of infectious guitar hooks, off-beat drum pulsations and raw honest energy. Impassioned punk-rock at its finest, played like they really mean it. And you get the full experience from every one of them too. But you don’t have to be a 70s punk to appreciate these guys, Stiff Little Fingers make an incredible impact – regardless of what you’re into.
Getting straight into the show without nothing more than a “hello Perth“, Jake Burns and co. fired into Wasted Life. Holding the audience comfortably in the palm of his hand, Burns made a note of playing across all Stiff Little Fingers’ records. The set list held all the classic numbers including Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae which sent the crowd into an outburst of cheers. After a more solid introduction of “It’s about fuckin’ time we played here, we used to be young guys!“, Burns led the band into a track off their new album. Whilst it didn’t get the same attention from the crowd as their older material, it was still good to see everyone thoroughly getting into it.
A cover of The Specials’ Doesn’t Make It All Right was effortlessly added to the set list; dedicated to the band’s good friend, the late John Bradbury. Burns was genius at holding those raspy vocals, whilst still sounding ridiculously young, right before the speedy drop at the end of the track before hitting it again with such power.
Notorious for writing all the Stiff Little Fingers songs himself, Burns introduced the next track as a unique one in their repertoire. Barbed Wire Love – the only love song the band has ever done – was written by bass player Ali McMordie. It’s a great track to watch live too, with its multiple layers and dimension there’s a lot going on in it. And McMordie was definitely lapping up his moment.
Making a stand with political issues – what punk music is all about, Stiff Little Fingers gave a general ‘fuck you’ to the government with their next hit Liars Club. Giving personal insights into the songs in his thick Irish accent, Burns explained the track was about the government fucking you over – and the roar it got from the crowd further proved the impact their music still has on fans.
Finalising the set with Tin Solider and Suspect Device – both of which went off flawlessly, Stiff Little Fingers took their audience on one hell of a ride. Wrapping things up with an encore of Johnny Was, the brilliant bass licks of Gotta Getaway and Alternative Ulster, they closed off with just as much energy as they started with. If not more.
Stiff Little Fingers wasted no time in impressing their audience. With 39 years of punk-rock music under their belt they’re still going incredibly strong, creating a mood that’s intensely fierce. The atmosphere of the near-capacity venue oozed a sense of nostalgia, as a lifetime of local fans who’ve stayed true to the band since the 70s were clearly in their element. Stiff Little Fingers are the definition of punk with a performance that was off the hook – especially for a Tuesday night. They’re a band that make a difference; and being part of it was certainly empowering.