The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Stiff Little fingres

It’s the 1st of April and no, it’s not a joke – Stiff Little Fingers are in town. Well, Portsmouth to be precise.

In an alternative venue due to the recent flooding at the Pyramid Centre, The Wedgewood Rooms plays host to tonight’s sell-out show. Opening are London 4-piece The Godfathers. Their brand of “dirty Rock ‘n’ Rol”‘ gets us in the mood early! They open with “Public Enemy” before the Moddy “Coz I Said So’. Their overall sound is one of clangy guitars, a big bass and some hard hitting. I can’t help but thinking The Godfathers got together as a group of lookalikes. The singer has an air of Harry Redknapp about him, while the drummer could be Eddie Izzard! The bassist looks like Simon Cowell but I can’t place the guitarist! Lookalikes aside they ramp it up with “Love Is Dead”. The vocal delivery has a whiff of Hugh Cornwell about it in places but doesn’t disapoint. Midset they suffer some instrument issues giving Izzard (drums) a chance to tell some (not overly funny) jokes. When local reviewer Ged Babey shouts out a request he is delivered a sharp but blunt retort of “shut up I’m talking” from Harry (vox)! It’s all good humoured though as they dedicate their next song, the excellent “Primitive Man” to Ged. They end a confident set with the anthemic “Birth, School, Work, Death” and leave to good applause.

The Godfathers
The Godfathers 12

And so to the headliners. It’s the last night of a 2 month tour as SLF take to the stage. Walking on to “Go For It” they take their places and launch into “Straw Dogs”. Jake’s voice sounds a tad off, but by the time they play “Wasted Life” everything sounds just right. “Just Fade Away” is great before Jake takes time to explain the origins of “My Dark Places” – a song written about his own bout of depression. “Nobody’s Hero” is as explosive as Steve (Grantley’s) drumming, matched only by the crowds reaction. Another new song, the excellent “When We Were Young” is dedicated to fellow Irishman Phil Lynott with an accompanying tale. I just wish some of tonight’s crowd would show Jake a little respect and not try to talk over him. That said, the whole band are smiling and bantering with us and each other.

The whole room joins in the singalong “Listen” while “Doesn’t Make It Alright” induces hysteria in the crowd! Jake then makes a joke about Ian (McCallum’s) height before letting him take vocal duties with his self-penned song “Throw It All Away”. As is now commonplace at an SLF show Jake has a few words for Joe Strummer before playing “Strummerville”. Three live favourites end the first set and don’t disappoint with “Suspect Device” being a highlight. They return and encore with that staple live singalong “Johnny Was” before launching into “At The Edge”. Jake then goes against tradition by not introducing the band but getting a round of applause for the crew. It’s a nice touch and well applauded.

Stiff Little fingers
Stiff Little Fingers 1234

The band then finish in the only way possible with crowd favourite “Alternative Ulster”. The reaction is electric and they exit the stage to great applause. A few of us lucky enough to get aftershow passes wait patiently to meet the band. We are shown to a small dressing room where we exchange chat and thanks. I find the band both approachable and friendly while they duly oblige with drinks and photos. A thoroughly entertaining evening had by all. If anyone is any doubt about the bands longevity then they could do no worse than buy the new LP “No Going Back”. However; on tonight’s evidence, they still more than cut it in the live arena.

Set Lists
Stiff Little Fingers
Straw Dogs
Wasted Life
Just Fade Away
My Dark Places
Nobody’s Hero
Silver Lining
When We Were Young
Doesn’t Make it Alright
Throw It All Away
Roots Radicals Rockers Reggae
Barbed Wire Love
Fly The Flag
Tin Soldiers
Suspect Device

Johnny Was
At The Edge
Alternative Ulster

The Godfathers
Public Enemy
Coz I Said So
She Gives Me Love
If Only I Had Time
I Can’t Sleep Tonight
Love Is Dead
Back Into The Future
Johnny Cash Blues
Primitive Man
HUP 234
I Want Everything
Birth School Work Death


The Godfathers

Band Links

Words By Ross A Ferrone
Videos and Pictures By Dave Chinery (Chinners)

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