O2 Academy Bournemouth

Stiff Little Fingers

It’s Friday night, it’s cold outside and us music lovers need something to warm us up! Step forward Punk legends Stiff Little Fingers! The omens are not good for us early birds-there’s barely 20 people in the queue! I needn’t have worried though, the venue soon fills up. With a tight schedule and 2 supports to accommodate, local rising stars “The Electric Shakes” take to the stage. They start with the now legendary set opener, the electric “Go”. To say the soundman has “whacked it up to full” is an understatement – it’s loud! Despite being on this early they receive encouraging applause from the 200 or so early arrives, not least on new song “Stereotypical Girls” – dedicated to the ladies of our fine town! They are given only 30 mins to shine tonight but don’t disappoint. In fact they seem totally at ease on a big stage.

The Electric Shakes
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2nd on are Kent’s “Electric River”. Strangely it appears to be even louder now! They eventually take their places after an interesting musical and spoken word ‘edit’ and proceed to win over a now, near half full room. This power trio have the rare distinction of being (to this reviewer) a band I just cannot pigeonhole. Yes there’s elements of Punk and Rock, yet they have a style quite their own. “Sponge” (bass/vox) reminds us of their last visit to these shores-playing to a paltry 6 people at The Anvil, how times change! Will (guitar) is indulging in some interesting picking, noodly in places; while Alex (drums) maintains the power. “Sponge” attempts a couple of sing-a-longs in his very own rabble-rousing way, and this crowd respond. In fact it’s Sponge’s birthday as he engages us in a singalong of “Dirty Old Town”, before the quite excellent “Keep The Engine Turning” – an ode to life on the road in a band. They too leave to great applause.

Electric River
Electric River 12

And so to the headliners. I like many weren’t particularly blown away by SLF last time they played this venue. Both band and audience seemed disinterested and we all hoped it was a one off. It’s the first night of this leg of the tour, so a good chance to blow away the cobwebs and have a damn good night. They take their places onstage to the sound of “Go For It”, before launching into the now legendary “Strummerville”. It sets the tone for what will undoubtedly be a show that will live long in the memory. “At The Edge” soon follows and the incendiary nature of the song gets the moshers in full flow straight away. “Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae” keeps the pit moving before they play some newer material, beginning with “No Barriers”. “Nobody’s Hero” gives Jake his first opportunity to engage us with his story telling of song titles and inspiration. I just wish some around me would pay him the courtesy of listening, instead of talking over him. The very personal “My Dark Places” is well received after Jake discusses his personal demons within the lyrics. Old and new numbers follow before a rabble rousing cover of The Specials “Doesn’t Make It Alright” gets the crowd moving. In fact Jake’s holding of a note in the middle is quite a feat, before the big finish! The set comes to a close with 4 biggies; starting with singalong favourite, the incendiary “Wasted Life”. The mosh at the front goes crazy but it’s friendly.
“Tin Soldiers” is retorted back to the band by one and all while “Straw Dogs” sets us up nicely for “Suspect Device”. We go crazy one more time before they leave the stage.

Stiff Little Fingers
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Muted calls still get the band back as they return with a cover. Jake introduces “Peace, Love and Understanding” as “an old lovesong” before another live favourite “Fly The Flag” ends the show-or so we thought? A last, loud rallying football chant of “FINGERS, FINGERS” gets the band back for the now legendary, adrenaline-fuelled “Alternative Ulster”. The response from an array of 40+ men and women (myself included) is electric, reminding me once again why we still go and see SLF live after all these years. If ever there was a triumphant return to form for a band tonight is it. Tonight was just brilliant-and some!

Set List
Go For It- Intro
At The Edge
Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae
No Barriers
Nobody’s Hero
My Dark Places
Just Fade Away
Guilty as Sin
Doesn’t Make It Alright
(The Specials cover)
Full Steam Backwards
Bits Of Kids
When We Were Young
Wasted Life
Tin Soldiers
Straw Dogs
Suspect Device

Peace, Love & Understanding
Fly the Flag
Alternative Ulster



Words by Ross A Ferrone.
Pictures & Videos By Dave Chinery (Chinners).

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