Stiff Little Fingers, supported by Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts, The Ironworks, Inverness, 15/3/2016. Review.
Tuesday night at the Ironworks and there’s a whole load of testosterone hanging in the air Some real, some fake or imagined………
First up Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts . Even this bands name tells you all you need to know about what you are about to hear. Ricky used to be the singer in The Almighty, but his credibility as a genuine ‘rocker’ has to my mind disappeared and been replaced by his mid Atlantic accent and the tortured drawl which now infects every song.
As far as I can make out, in private he seems a really nice bloke but fronting Thin Lizzy /Black Star Riders has, certainly the few times I’ve seen them, led to this terrible cliched heavy rock posturing and it’s only when he sings an Almighty song at the end of his set that his guard is down and the drawl disappears . The terrible muddy sound with no discernible lead guitar also didn’t help sell his new album “When Patsy Cline was Crazy(and Guy Mitchell sang the blues)” to me. Sorry.
On to Stiff Little Fingers and the testosterone is genuinely pumped up now. First off the sound has miraculously cleaned up for the headliners.
Secondly this band are tight, driven and the songs have a real message and clarity with no bull.
These guys are in their element and they are out to have fun. It isn’t a fight or a riot it just looks like one
The Inverness and surrounding area SLF hardcore is here and, though there aren’t hundreds of them, they take over the front of the stage and you wouldn’t want to get in the way. That’s not to say they are threatening, far from it. These guys are in their element and they are out to have fun. It isn’t a fight or a riot it just looks like one and it is very aggressive to the eye of the casual bystander. So aggressive is the faithfull’s “dancing” that the gig is stopped 4 or 5 songs in because some guy is now down, sparked out unconscious and unresponsive on the floor. He is attended to by medics for about 5/10 minutes and brought round and led out before the gig can carry on.
Jake Burns is an excellent front man and introduces several songs whilst referencing heroes of his. Notable co writers such as Andy Cairns and departed friends including Phil Lynott of the real Thin Lizzy , Joe Strummer of The Clash and John Bradbury of The Specials. He manages to do this all without sounding as if it’s put on for effect.
a thoroughly likeable singer with a voice which sounds exactly like it did 30 years ago
A rally against hypocrisy and peadophilia in the priesthood and now politics “Guilty as Sin” has another powerful message rammed home by a band in great form.
Burns also introduces a song about his own battle with depression ‘My Dark Places’ with a heartfelt message about the stigma of mental health problems without sounding false or self centred. All in all a thoroughly likeable singer with a voice which sounds exactly like it did 30 years ago even if Jake himself doesn’t look that young any more.
Encores “Gotta Getaway” and “Alternative Ulster” finish the rampage that’s going on down the front and the faithful Stiff Little Fingers fans stop battering lumps out of each other or ‘having fun’ as they likely describe it.
Two bands, a real contrast of sound and content but all in all a good night and (going by the ringing in my ears) a proper racket.!