Crud Fanzines PLC present...

Carling Academy, Liverpool
March 4th 2004

(reviewed by Phil Newall)

Stiff Little Fingers

Another year, and time for another tour by Stiff Little Fingers, this was riding on the back of the recent 'Guitar And Drum' album.

I had not seen the Fingers for many years, but was aware that the current line up featured the not insurmountable talents of Bruce Foxton, so I was both looking forward to and expecting great things. I'd spent my teenage years actively following Stiff Little Fingers and extolling their virtues to all who would listen, however I hadn't heard any of their studio albums for ages, so I borrowed what seemed like the last 15 years back catalogue. Shite!.. was I shocked - the Fingers had turned into fuckin' Def Leppard!! gone was the energy, the anger, the passion, all the things that made Fingers stand out from the masses of crap three chord punk. I was seriously reconsidering even turning up at the gig. At the bottom of the pile of CD's however where two live albums from Barrowlands, Glasgow a couple of years ago, both recorded on an obviously pissed up St Patrick's night; now these were more like it, demonstrating all the ingredients missing from the studio albums. This, to some extent, restored my faith, but also showed that a healthy consumption of the amber nectar was required. Another big factor in this gig was that I was taking along my 10 year old son, as a responsible parent I felt that it was important that he be protected from shite like Busted etc and so this was his first lesson - how many it will take to get him grooving to Merzbow is anybody's guess.

Thanks go to Paul and all of A Thousand Fake Heroes (Apparently they were previously called 0898) for putting Greg on the guest list, not seen this band before, but having ambled on stage to the usual disinterested crowd they set about the task admirably. They sound a lot like The Manic's, which is not an entirely bad thing, and very soon pulled a fair portion of the punters away from the bar. The short set didn't really do them justice, but they certainly proved themselves to be more than capable, they are not just copying the Manics sound, they have enough of their own individuality to make them stand out, at this stage they remain unsigned, though on tonight's showing, I reckon there time is long overdue. If you get the chance go see them!

Fingers took to the stage, infront of a crowd of roughly 750/800 converts and a dozen 10yr olds myself and friends had brought along! They immediately set about what they do best - kicking the bollocks out of their album tracks and delivering then with the full power and passion they deserve. The set jumped between new stuff from the 'Guitar & Drum' album, and all the classic material 'Suspect Devices', 'Wasted Life', Nobody's Hero'.

Burns made reference to the late great Joe Strummer as an introduction to 'Strummerville' and even bore his image on his shirt, a shirt which looked to be only just containing the now rather cuddly Jake. Hardly surprising he no longer looks like the snot nosed kid who emerged from Belfast, these boys have had 25 years of this, and have sold a fair few albums in the meantime.

Don't let the passing years deceive you, Fingers are still capable of putting on a spectacle, even the political lyrics still have relevance, perhaps more so in view of Madrid - terrorism is terrorism whatever banner you wrap it in.

My initial concerns were un-founded, I was literally shell-shocked; these boys really kick ass, 'Tin Soldiers', 'Fly The Flag', new songs 'Walkin Dynamite' and 'Guitar & Drum' - I reckon they put on a good show because they all actually enjoy themselves, Burns was chatting to the crowd, no false 'rock posturing' just deliver the music. It was obvious 'Alternative Ulster' would be the encore but so what! we were also treated to an awesome 'Johnny Was' to bring a close to proceedings. Fingers treated us to a full hour and a half of material which easily demonstrated their ability to wipe the floor with so many of today's more relevant upstarts - this was only the third date of the tour, so do not just take my word for it, get off your arse and see Fingers live - you will not be disappointed.


Big thanks also to the Fingers T-shirt guy for the freebies, you made my 10yr olds night, and yes he did wear the badges to school, no doubt he will be asking for 'Suspect Device' at the next Disco....

Phil Newall


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