Punk is a style I find has become all too underrated, but on this particular Wednesday at Rock City, some us were lucky enough to see four members of punk’s political origins in Stiff Little Fingers. Having only previously listened to a few songs, it doesn’t take much for the band’s message of political anger to come through, and one I am always ready to listen to!
Arriving at the venue, it was clear the crowd was slightly different to that of your modern punk audience, however there was a charm in seeing just how resonant punk music has been amongst generations. Although my attire was arguably setting me aside, double-pints being in the hands of most unified us all! Supporting band, Eddie & the Hot Rods, were warming up the crowd nicely, with songs like “G.L.O.R.I.A” and “Do Anything You Wanna Do” warming up everyone’s vocal chords.
SLF themselves came on just after 8:30, with “Law and Order” opening the set and testing the crowd’s volume, all of us shouting loud enough for Parliament to hear. Frontman Jake Burns introduced a lot of their songs with an insight into the song’s history and the emotional intent behind them, with a few being dedicated to friends of the band who have sadly passed. It’s clear, after songs like “16 Shots”, that the band have taken a lot of inspiration from real-life issues and concerns, and being in the crowd felt like time-travelling back into 1980’s Belfast. However, Burns pointed out how concerns that the band had a few decades ago were still relevant and on the minds of the people, with “Silverlining” being introduced as a song that was written in the hopes of a better future, but with little progress actually made.
Some personal favourites of mine, like “Wasted Life” and “Gotta Getaway” had me really head-banging along, with the latter finishing the set before the encore. The band came on a second time, much to the pleasure of the crowd after chanting ‘FINGERS, FINGERS, FINGERS!’ until they obliged. The familiar riff of “Alternative Ulster” marked the beginning of the end of the entire set, preparing Rock City with goosebumps and mosh pits to alight the venue with energy! After this particular gig, I must say I came away with a new appreciation for punk and its roots.