Saturday, March 08, 2008

Closed groove

SLF then....

A few years ago, I had a moment of self-awareness, watching a Paul Weller gig on the TV. Occassional audience shots shows a moshpit filled with greying balding heavy-set forty-somethings - pogoing - to That's Entertainment.

Yet despite this clear warning, I went to see Stiff Little Fingers last night at The Astoria. In my teens, I usually stuck to moddy bands like The Jam, The Chords, The Specials, Selecter, Dexys etc (and The Beatles / Who / Small Faces, natch), along with a bit of soul.

My big exeptions to this rule were SLF and The Undertones and Inflamable Material was the first LP that I bought with my own money. So when I saw the ad a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist it

Tonight, SLF played a handful of numbers that I haven't heard since my copy of Nobody's Heroes was nicked at least 25 years ago. Jake's still a terrific (and chubbier) vocalist, and SLF's guitar sound is a good deal more influential than it has ever been given credit for. All-in-all, it was good fun. Jake may need to stop trying star-jumps though?

A mix of fairly juvenile politics, crowd-pleasers, and the usual dynamic between a long-standing band and their audience: The first half-a-dozen songs are ones that only the hardcore know - y'know, the serious stuff, more mature numbers with the odd jazz-chord that the band like, before it all degenerates in to a well-received medley of the hits.

We got 'Johnny Was' as an encore - then and now an outstanding version of it. But, for me, the best commentary on the night was the final number before the encores: Suspect Device - a raw furious punk cornerstone whose relevance has evaporated almost completely given Northern Ireland's recent history.

Just before the final verse, Jake broke of, with the band keeping time in the background - to do the farewells: "Ladies and Gennelmen, you've been a great audience - now, on guitar, I give you...."

And then when he said his thanks, he continued onto the last verse, ending with the final "We're going to blow up in your face!!!"

... and now: About to blow up in your face...


Darren said...

"SLF's guitar sound is a good deal more influential than it has ever been given credit for."

Is that a sly reference to that wee scene in Stephen Frears'sHigh Fidelity'?

Don't blame SLF for Green Day. They don't deserve it. ;-)

andrewkbrown said...

The politics that inspired Suspect Device are obsolete, but what a song!

Paulie said...


I've somehow managed to miss the High Fidelity film, so I don't know what you mean.

But I don't mind Green Day - they're alright in a derivative sort of way.

Deaglan said...

I thought it was sweet the way The Undertones and SLF didn't get on. Angry Jake accusing Sharkey & Co of ignoring the Troubles by writing songs about Mars Bars and girlfriends. In the other corner, The Undertones - I suspect - thinking SLF should "f**kin' well lighten up hai."

Paulie said...

Yes - but didn't a couple of the Undertones go the other way in the mid-80s? That Petrol Emotion used to have Michael Davitt quotes on their album sleeves - they went all hard-left republican, didn't they?

deaglan said...

Yes, they did indeed. Not too sure how seriously they took it though. There was a similar group of Derry wans who had a line in political rock - The Screaming Bin Lids, who then went on to become The Whole Tribe Sings. Defunct now, I think.

Darren said...


Half-remembered/half-doctored/half-cut and pasted scene from the aforementioned High Fidelity:

The interesting thing about Green
Day is that so much of their music
is in truth directly influenced by,
in my opinion, two bands.

The Clash.

Correct. The Clash. But also the
Stiff Little Fingers.


I think you would love the
Stiff Little Fingers...

Dick pulls a Stiff Little Fingers record and puts it on the stereo.
Her brow furrows, and then she smiles.

This sounds great.

Dick smiles humbly. Two people in the store turn and

Is this the new Green Day?

Paulie said...

Very good. What's the SLF track I wonder?

Any film-maker who wants high value-for-money ramalama could do worse than use 'Here We Are Nowhere' of the first LP. It's got teenage boredom, quickfire poetry, chuck-berryish riffs, a great count-in to the lead-break (one-chew-free-four), a lead break that does what lead breaks *should* do, and the best example of the Jake Burns bark. And it lasts less than a minute. I don't know why it's not in dozens of flicks.

Darren said...

According to the wiki page for 'High Fidelity', it was 'Suspect Device'.

You have to check out the film. I loved Hornby's novel, but I think they did a good job of transferring the novel to Chicago.