Tag Archives: Stiff Little Fingers

Stiff Little Fingers and Lost City Angels – The Paradise, Boston (September 6, 2001)

Irish punk legends Stiff Little Fingers started their fall American tour at the Paradise – a Boston club they haven’t played since their first Stateside trip, 21 years ago.

Some of the NFL’s New England Patriots made the Paradise notorious a few years back when they stage-dived onto regular-size people at an Everclear concert. It’s understandable how a brutal, high-octane band like Everclear can whip anyone into a stage-diving frenzy; nonetheless the negative attention led authorities to close the Paradise for code violations.Now back in business, the Paradise looks exactly like it did before the closing, with its polished, Euro-hip decor. The joint may host techno dancing much of the time, but it can be a great venue for infrequent big punk shows. The room is fairly small and shallow, with its wide stage looming nearby wherever you stand, creating anintimate atmosphere. Tonight it was sold out. Younger scenesters and fans filled the floor, and the old fogies milled up on the balcony.

Lost City Angels were a perfect choice to open. The talented five-piece band of punks play upbeat, melodic hard rock songs on the long side with tight arrangements and cool dynamics. A lot of the kids up front sang and shouted along as the singer, a natural-born performer, and the harmonizing bassist belted out their original anthems. The crowd was suitably warmed up when LCA finished.

On a Celtic punk note, the sound guy played the Tossers, among other music, over the P.A. during the agonizingly long set change.

Finally, everybody’s favorite ‘80s-Irish-mulleted little guys took the stage in matching “Stiff Little Fingers” soccer jerseys with their respective last names stitched on the backs. The crowd went nuts to a few old hits like “Nobody’s Hero.” Explaining that they’re hoping to get a new record deal, the band soon trotted out several brand-new songs, not one of them bad ordifferent from what you’d expect. A standout was the slow reggae number “Listen to Your Heart.”

The last new song Jake prefaced with “I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing five young boys in vests doing backflips and calling that music…this is a song called ‘I Believe In the Power of Guitar and Drum.’” The anti-MTV anthemic ode to rock and roll snapped the crowd out of their temporary funk, the song’s sentiment alone getting fans to pogo again. “I see we’re of like mind on that one,” Jake said as the band finished to loud roars.

Next up was “No Surrender,” and a fight broke out. The combatants were quickly ejected. “To our more boisterous brethren up front,” Jake good-naturedly chided at the end of the song, “We’re up here singing about reconciliation and peace, and you’re fighting! Get a boxing license.” Soon SLF kicked into awesome mode with a string of old hits: “Wasted Life,” “Fly the Flag,” “Tin Soldiers,” and finally “Alternative Ulster.” Pogoing and singing along were at all-time highs. Their set had already clocked in at an hour and five minutes, but the boys came back for an encore, covering the Clash’s “White Riot” and closing with “At the Edge.”

It seems that over two decades SLF have lost none of their energy. Jake’s singing voice is as plaintive and hopeful as ever. And the band seemed as happy and excited to be up on stage playing as the crowd was to see them.

By Pat Kennedy

Shamrocked, Part 2 – Inside the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival (September 2011)

September 15, 2011

John Curtin is the drummer Tin Whistle and  Bodhran play for The Gobshites (and a stand-up comic but not with The Gobshites – that’s Pete Walsh’s gig).  John posted recently on his blog, “This Is Not A Rant”, an non-rant about the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival stop in Bangor where The Gobshites played – I thought it would be cool to post as a review of the show and an insider view of what was going on. So, in John’s own words……

This weekend was pretty exciting.  The Gobshites played Shamrock-N-Roll Festival in Bangor, Maine with headliners Dropkick Murphy’s, as well as Stiff Little Fingers, Street Dogs, the Mahones, Chuck Ragan, and the Parkington Sisters.  We were part of the local band “Undercard” that included Pubcrawlers, Bar Stuards, Beantown Boozehounds, and the O’Tooles.  Our set wasn’t until 3PM, but we had to be there at 10 in the morning, which meant leaving the house at 5.  Ah, the life of a rock star.  Due to a couple of last minute cancellations, I ended up playing drums (And a HUGE thanks to the O’Tooles for letting us use their kit.  Lifesavers, so y’are!), and we borrowed Travis from the Pubcrawlers (Another big thank you) to play tin whistle.

It was a long day, but boy was it fun.  The local bands hung out in the field behind the “B” stage, and it was like a cookout without the grill.  Everyone brought their amber-colored liquid of choice (mine, of course, was iced tea), and Jess went into teacher mode and organized the snacks along with the Pubcrawlers’ ladies (Who brought sandwich making materials.  We brought plenty of crunchy stuff, plus popcakes and Nutella.  We definitely made some converts that day.).  Everyone came out to watch each other’s sets, and there was actually a pretty decent sized crown there from the start.  We’ve played festivals where no one really shows up until the main acts start, so it was nice to see folks supporting the local acts too.  It definitely added to everyone’s energy on stage, which resulted in some really fun sets from everyone.

As for our performance, well, it could have been better in my opinion.  But nonetheless, we were well received.  Actually, the crowd seemed to appreciate everyone, which was nice.  For some reason, I kept dropping sticks.  I don’t know if it was exhaustion from the long drive or what, but my right hand just could not seem to get a proper grip on the drumstick.  Weird.  Plus I could barely hear the rest of the band, so I don’t even know if I was playing in time.  Oh well, it’s punk rock, it’s not supposed to be pretty.  At least I had the Nutella handy to wash all of my frustrations away…

The main stage started up around 6 or so, with the first act being the Parkington Sisters.  Not an act you’d typically expect to see at a show like this.  But what they lacked in sonic boom-ness, they made up for in profanity.  There’s just something about a hot chick that can wail on a fiddle and swear like a stevedore.  I’ve been listening to a lot of rootsy music lately, so they were a welcome interlude.  Not everyone liked them, but Jess and I did, so they made at least two fans that day.  Mahones were up next.  We opened for them in Boston last Summer, but I unfortunately had to miss that show, so this was actually the first time I’d ever seen them live.  Wow, they put on a great show.  Their whistle player is simply amazing, and their accordion player was lively and leggy.  Mama’s got a squeezebox, indeed.

Chuck Ragan had a good set, although I had gone to get dinner during much of it.  His low growl and emotion really drove his folk punk songs.  I need to pick up some of his music.  We’ve played withStreet Dogs before, and they’re about as good a punk rock band as there is nowadays.  Mike and Johnny really know how to fire up a crowd, everybody was moving and having a good time during their set.  If they come to your town, make sure you don’t miss it.  For reals, these guys scorched the stage.

The band I was most excited to see was Stiff Little Fingers.  Punk rock legends.  Northern Ireland’s answer to The Clash.  As with the Mahones, I had to miss the show we opened for them a few months ago, so this was a second chance to bask in the glow of one of my all time favorite bands.  They pulled out almost all the hits.  I found myself singing along like a twelve year old girl at a Justine Bieber concert (No, I’m not linking to his website.).

We didn’t stay for the entire Dropkick Murphy’s set, because by then we’d been walking around and rocking out for nearly 12 hours.  So I missed the acoustic part of the show, and the part where Ken Casey stepped on my friend Gina’s head (She’s fine, she actually got kind of psyched about it.).  I’ve seen them many many times, and they’re a great live act, but we were totally spent and decided to call it a night.  Luckily, Jess has family not too far away, so we sacked out there with two of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen and a kitten with double paws, who seemed and acted like a long lost relative of Finn.

Sunday’s drive home was long, but fun (I retained my Punchbuggy crown), and we ended the weekend at Secret Society Tattoo and Art Gallery in Worcester.  They were having an art opening for a local artist, and Jess was pouring the whisky (she spells it without the “E”, so I will too).  The food was good, and I met some cool folks from the Worcester arts scene.  Jeff Gemma and Danny Gunns, the guys who do the ink slinging there, were in attendance (Jeff is actually the owner), and it was a cool, laid back way to finish the weekend.

Tonight, the Gobshites try out a new drummer, and we’re playing out on the deck again this Friday at Mick Morgan’s in Sharon.  Last time there was an absolute blast, so I’m definitely looking forward to this show.  Stop by and say hi if you can.

Souveniers are available in the gift shop…

John Curtin


Stiff Little Fingers, The Gobshites – JUne 1, 2011, Showtime Live, Foxboro, MA

June 2, 2011

Lesser bands then SLF would have canceled last nights show – guitarist Ian McCallum took sick moments before the tour started – John Haggarty of Naked Raygun infamy stood in, and while a competent substitute, he looked a little uncomfortable on stage. Then there was the odd choice of venue for a punk gig – Showcase Live, a state of the art concert venue beside Foxoboro football stadium some 30 miles outside Boston, but a venue more used to hosting tribute acts – Showcase is also not exactly easy to get to even when there isn’t frigging tornado’s ripping up various parts of the state and a state wide tornado emergency in effect – thus ensured a small turn out (though if SLF had played the Middle East club instead it would have sold out, tornado or not). Despite the poor attendance, an appreciative (and somewhat portly) Jake Burns along with original (and skinny) bass player McMordie, the a fore mentioned Haggerty and drummer Steve Grantley played a blistering set of SLF classics to an enthusiastic and hardy crowd of storm chasers, though with the exception of Strummerville everything was from the glory days of the late 70’s and early 80s and guess what, nobody seemed to mind.

Support was from The Gobshites who gave me a nice shout out from the stage and a song dedication or so I though was a nice shout out until they broke into Arsehole by Snuff –

What an arsehole
What a fucking wanker
What a toss-pot ,a toe rag ,a fart in a jar

– where there is smoke there must be fire I guess.

Stiff Little Fingers: Best Served Loud

July 3, 2017

While SLF are currently taking their brand of shell-shock-rock through the halls of the UK, Europe and North America to celebrate 40 years of existence, Best Served Loud, the legendary Belfast band’s latest offering is a double live album (on CD and DVD as well) that commemorates their 25th year headlining Glasgow’s legendary Barrowland Ballroom on St. Patrick’s Day – now if you’re thinking Glasgow/Scotland and Paddy’s day is weird then you don’t know Glasgow and the Barrowland – the ultimate place to be on the day.

Feeding off the energy of the best audience in the world, SLF have clearly not lost a drop of energy as the band enters middle age, showcasing material from career influencing (other bands careers**) Inflammable Material through more recent ‘classics” such as Guitar and Drum and Strummerville. Best Served Loud captures the authentic raw energy of SLF live – a fact I can testify as being the real McMordie having seen them live three times in the last few years with tickets acquired for a fourth.

**Green Day

Stiff Little Fingers: Inflammable Material

“If it wasn’t for your stiff little fingers Nobody would know you were dead.” – The Vibrators
If any band on Earth at any time was purely fucking incendiary – able to produce the soundtrack and atmosphere of riots, chaos, bombs, explosions, strife, hate and hope – it was certainly Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers circa the late 70’s. Hailing from a city full of violence and disdain, SLF weren’t some kind of art-students singing about pasting the Queen or Parliament, they were dodging gunfire and landmines, by God – and their attitude reflects this. Recognizing they had a life different from bands like the Clash who had inspired them, but wanting to be part of the same movement, SLF sprang to life. Spurred on by their manager/journalist Gordon Oglivie to write about what they knew, SLF would go on to become one of the greatest punk bands the UK would ever produce, mixing personal agendas with political upheaval to produce scathing melody, truly defining the over-used punk adjective “energy.”

Led by the often imitated but never duplicated gravelly voice of one Jake Burns, SLF sprang to life in Belfast, in 1977, complete with a moniker taken from the above Vibrators song. With guidance from Ogilive, and musical backing from Henry Cluney on guitar, Brian Faloon on drums and Gordon Blair and Ali McMordie on bass, respectively, Burns was soon churning out such slice-of-life classics as “Suspect Device” and “Wasted Life” which would appear as staples of the debut LP.

Released in 1979, Inflammable Material debuted at #13 on the then-important UK Charts. The album itself is a burner. SLF classics fill the LP, from the aforementioned “Suspect Device” and “Wasted Life” to the classic rally-cry of “Alternative Ulster,” it’s a blistering journey through a teenagers Belfast. From the top-speed “He We Are Nowhere” to the musings of “Barb-Wire Love”, all bases are covered. The LP also introduced the bands talent for fusing reggae and punk, by covering Marley’s “Johnny Was.” Throughout their career, the band always retained their love for reggae.

This is Irish punk in its purest form – as in punk from Ireland, from the heart, nothing more, nothing less. No mandolin or tin whistle present, it’s simply geographically and politically a disgruntled bunch of Irish teens that vent their aggression and frustration with everyday life onto one of the best punk albums ever made. So many bands have covered so many songs from this LP, it’s influence cannot be overstated. No excuses for missing this, kids….listen to it and feel what it was like to be blown to hell by a landmine in Belfast…and to survive and persevere.

July 2002

Review by Sean Holland