Friday, 7 May 2010

504 STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, Spear Of Destiny, Bristol University Anson Rooms, Wednesday 16 May 2001

And after a bit of thrashy punk rock from a bunch of young Irish bucks (namely Ash, last time out), it's only fitting that the next gig should be a bit of vintage thrashy punk rock from what could be Ash's spiritual ancestors, da Fingers. This one was a second bite at the punk rock cherry, as The Big Man and I had ventured down in March, only to be told when we got here that the gig was off. D'oh! So, we try again, Rich picking me up in his loan car and driving through sweeping rain to The Anson Rooms, hitting the venue for doors and noting how empty the place was early on!

Another surprise was the support act; none other than Spear Of Destiny, Kirk Brandon's epic rock cohorts from the 80's, whom I'd been dragged along to see on a few occasions by a drooling Lynn Mulraney. Kirk hadn't changed a great deal since those days; a little portlier, maybe, and a blond flick where once there was a quiff, but otherwise he'd weathered the years of indifference well. They played a set largely unfamiliar to me, but much in keeping with their usual dour but dramatic rock stylee, with Kirk's strident vocals way to the fore. They then ended with a radically reworked Spear oldie "I Can See", followed by a punky blast through Theatre Of Hate's "Propaganda" and their sleazy, pseudo goth cowboy song "Do You Believe In The Westworld?". Altogether, not too bad at all, Kirk.

Had a brief interlude in the bar with Rich, noting that footballer and old punk rocker Stuart Pearce was in there too, enjoying a quiet drink, before heading back into the by-now full hall for the appearance of the Fingers. On they came to a raucous reception, all sporting matching SLF footy shirts (underlining my theory about goalies and drummers, the SLF drummer had a goalie shirt on - nice touch!), and ripped straight into "Roots Radicals Rockers And Reggae". I dunno, vocalist Jake Burns and his main oppo, former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, may be in their mid 40's, but they can still kick up some dynamic hard biting punk rock with social comment. "Nobody's Hero", "Fly The Flag" and "Tin Soldiers" got the slamdancing going, and I liked Jake's point about, "5 lads with vests on doing gymnastics and trying to be in a rock'n'roll band" as a put-down to manufactured boy bands before newie "Guitar And Drum". The years of performing in sweaty halls have given Jake a rapport and ease of communication with his moshing punk audience, and each song told a story, or spoke up for an issue or an injustice. Nevertheless, this was too much fun to turn overly preachy, and I joined the mosh for first encore - a cover of the Clash's "White Riot". An incendiary "At The Edge" concluded proceedings on a fine evening. Hopefully, it won't be another 11 years before I catch up with SLF again!

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