Stiff Little Fingers blast the Phoenix
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsAfter nearly 40 years it’s good to see that Belfast’s finest, Stiff Little Fingers are still going strong. I also find it hard to believe that it’s taken me that long to see them live but it was well worth the wait. It was to be an eye opening experience and one that I will remember for some time. As I made my way into the Exeter Phoenix I was surprised at the age of the audience who all seemed to be in their late 40’s and early 50’s. The punk style of these fans was clear to see and I thought I would be in for a very relaxed night.
First up was fellow Irishman, Ricky Warwick, who is probably best known as the Black Star Riders frontman. On this occasion he had brought his new outfit with him under the name of Ricky Warwick and the Fighting Hearts. Having just released a double album When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues) with Hearts on Trees, it was mostly these songs in his set. This probably wasn’t the best idea as most of the fans didn’t know the vast majority of the songs and the atmosphere was a little flat.
Add to this the fact that the sound didn’t seem to be mixed very well and it was a set that many will soon forget. However it did have it’s highlight and this came in the form of the Black Star Riders song “Finest Hour” that stood out head and shoulders above the rest of the set.
As it was Warwick I had been looking forward to most, I felt slightly let down, but I had got to see a great performer live even if things were not at their best.
Next up were Stiff Little Fingers who I knew very little about. Having seen their fans swarming the venue I had been given the impression that the crowd would be rather sombre but how wrong was I. As soon as the band made their way onto the tiny Phoenix stage the crowd went crazy.
I’ve seen venues with a few rows of the crowd rocking out or perhaps a mosh pit here and there but this crowd was different. From start to finish they were a mass of moving bodies and my assumption that the average age of the fans would mean a relaxed quiet crowd was well off the mark.
The band were obviously feeding off this and were in fine form from start to finish and thankfully there were no sound issues. In fact the sound was fantastic and they put on one of the finest sets I’ve seen in a long time.
The crowd obviously played their part as they sang their hearts out to every song and this mixed with their phenomenal movement made this quite a night. Thankfully I managed to grab one of the few seats in the balcony area so I got a birds eye view of the proceedings without being caught in the mosh. As the songs came and went the crowd continued to enjoy the gig at full pelt and I can only imagine how big a buzz the band get from seeing fans enjoying their music.
As the night drew to a close I expected the middle aged crowd to slow up but there was no signs of this as the band played their final song and left the stage. Their blend of punk rock had given the fans a night to remember and left me to think of what I may have missed over the years. It also made me think that if these guys come nearby on their next tour I will be in line for tickets and take my dancing shoes to the show.
Full gallery can be seen here.
See them on tour: