The Big Man and I are always up for some old school punk rock, SLF style, and particularly so as this gig was part of the Fingers' 30th Anniversary tour! So, Rich booked tix and I picked him up at 7, parking up at 1/4 to 8 after a "Lauda-esque" (Rich's words) drive down. Got the drinks in at the back bar and discussed impending dadhood (for both of us), so missed the support altogether!
So we slunk into the venue itself later on, circumnavigating the crowded bar and getting a place on the less crowded dancefloor, bumping into some familiar faces in this older but up for it crowd. A measure of how up for it was in the reaction to the "Guitar And Drum" walk-on music - this crowd practically raised the roof! Jake then led the boys on to a raucous reception and a hot version of "Roots Radicals Rockers And Reggae". This however was cut short by some dickhead lobbing a full beer pint and catching Jake square. However, like the old trouper he is, Jake contented himself with making the hurler seem insignificantly small, then burst into "Nobody's Hero." A venomous response!
We were then treated to 40 minutes of the usual SLF mix of politicised but thrilling old school punk, interspersed with old rock stories and song history explanations from Jake, before we reached the crux of this 30th Anniversary set - a track by track reading of "Inflammable Material", the band's first album, a raw, primal burst of teenage punk rock venom and righteous indignation. Unhappily, a lot of the themes (racism, government oppression and ignorance) are as relevant today as 30 years ago, so this seemed as relevant a set now as ever. Certainly "Wasted Life", an uncomfortable to listen to "White Noise" and an extended, sinuous "Johnny Was" all hit home hard, as did set closer "Alternative Ulster", the guitars by now crunching and deafening.
Two real treats were to come though; following a nice story about SLF's early days as a young Irish band in London, we were treated to a faithful version of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" for old pal Phil Lynott, and after a second encore praising of Bristol's crowds (When Jake says, "Bristol crowds are amongst the best for us, we genuinely mean that," you believe him!) we were treated to a brilliant "Tin Soldiers", still their finest number. All in all, a great night, a great 1 hour 40 minute set - here's to the next 30 years!