Old punk rockers don't die, they just work harder... that certainly holds true for the Fingers, finishing off another tour, barely 6 months after I'd dragged Rachel kicking and screaming to the Zodiac to see them! This time I had fellow old punk Rich with me, as we headed down to Bristol at breakneck speed, parking at 7.30. Chatted in the bar before heading in for the support, a bunch of kids from Bath. They seemed unsure as to what they wanted to play, either Orange County punk rock or shiny shouty emo, but either way they were generic and in need of more originality - and practice, despite saying they'd had an hour that morning!
Rich and I took a good spot, stage left, as the place filled up. From being embarrassingly sparse at the end of the support's set, the place looked close to the claimed sell-out by the entrance of the Fingers at 9.30. They took the stage to their usual "Guitar And Drum" theme - an entry I'll never get tired of - and, all matching in black, red and white shirts, blasted into "Nobody's Hero". An unexpected "Roots Radicals Rockers and Reggae" followed, and the old boys were in their stride, trotting out a splendid set of polemic, venomous punk rock. Fingers, more than any other band this side of the Clash, brought the politics and protest to punk, having grown up in the troubled 70's Northern Ireland and therefore having something valid to articulate. It's good to see that time hasn't mellowed their rage, as the new "Still Burning" attested to.
Vocalist Jake Burns said that this tour was a chance to dust off some overlooked numbers, so we got the almost poppy "Silver Lining" amongst the more expected Levellers-style protest folk of "Each Dollar A Bullet" and vintage anti-war protest punk of "Wasted Life". A venomous "Tin Soldiers" rounded off the set, and a couple of encores later, the inevitable "Alternative Ulster" closed proceedings brilliantly. And home by 12!
In a climate where bands come and go so quickly, having nothing to say in the process, it's good to report that Stiff Little Fingers are still angry after all these years!