Stiff Little Fingers: ‘Best Served Loud – Live at the Barrowland’ Jun23


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Stiff Little Fingers: ‘Best Served Loud – Live at the Barrowland’


Stiff Little Fingers: ‘Best Served Loud – Live at the Barrowland’

Review – Craig Grant – Stiff Little Fingers, the SLF or the Rigid Digits are the pioneers of punk rock. In 1977 the world was filled with acts such as the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, the Undertones and The Clash but the SLF stood out. They were angry and in a hurry to share their political slant on a world that was honed from their experience growing up during, ‘The Troubles’. Infectious hooks, no nonsense delivery and a commitment to telling it like it is was the trademark of a SLF show. By the time Suspect Device and Alternative Ulster came on at a gig you had been through the wringer, with songs that were relatable but told with blunt honesty.

In 1983, shortly before the demise of the great Glasgow Apollo theatre, the SLF played a Sunday night gig that smacked around an audience that was used to heckling any band that wasn’t up to scratch. But not the SLF. Forget about missing the last train and being stranded. Forget about having to explain why you didn’t get home or get to school. Wasn’t it obvious people, there was an SLF gig! That night they laid waste to Glasgow, and they’ve been good enough to keep it up! The good news is that the SLF have made their pilgrimage back to Glasgow each year, almost taking up residence in the mighty Barrowland Ballroom. Each year, for St Patrick’s Day, the SLF return to crank out a set list that calls to the faithful.

So this album is a double celebration. It celebrates the connection that Stiff Little Fingers have to the people of Glasgow and it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the band. You could sit and write your all-time SLF setlist, but why bother, this is one of the best setlists that the band has fired out. I caught up with them in Adelaide and they played a great set that night. The passion and the stories of depression, rage, anger and political stupidity still sparkle. We all might be a bit older but the world is no wiser and with that comes the fodder for SLF to continually crank out stellar performances.

This album is no different. The mix is excellent and the band and the audience come together like old friends. Sure, they could coast through this show, but SLF hammer their way through a set of classics. As ever with the Barrowland, the audience is all over this recording, and there is an energy in the room. As the setlist goes on there is even that tension we felt back in the day when the first-hand stories of life in Belfast hit you like a brick. This band has lost none of its passion.

It’s out on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and double vinyl. If that’s not enough, a vinyl edition of the 2014 release No Going Back will also be available. Both are out on the 23rd of June 2017 via earMUSIC.

That raw edge that drove us to listen to the SLF is still there in these candid stories of life that are performed with the same energy and commitment that hasn’t changed during this band’s long history. Where the Undertones gave us stories about life on the fringe and where the Buzzcocks gave us that broody introduction to true pop-punk, the Stiff Little Fingers are a window to reality. If you think that punk is nothing more than bondage pants and shit singing, well check this album out and get a reality check. Those of you familiar with the SLF, check out the setlist. Seriously, just get it.

1. Go For It/Wasted Life
2. Just Fade Away
3. Roots, Radicals, Rockers And Reggae
4. Guitar & Drum
5. Nobody’s Hero
6. Back To Front
7. Barbed Wire Love
8. Listen
9. Doesn’t Make It Alright
10. Silver Lining
11. Guilty As Sin
12. At The Edge
13. Strummerville
14. My Dark Places
15. Fly The Flag
16. When We Were Young
17. Tin Soldiers
18. Suspect Device
19. Gotta Getaway
20. Alternative Ulster


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