Belfast punks Stiff Little Fingers announce Custom House Square gig

Best known for 70s hits like Alternative Ulster and Suspect Device, the legendary Ulster group are looking forward to playing live again

By Joanne Savage
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 5:41 pm
Stiff Little Fingers are delighted to announce a forthcoming gig at Custom House Square on August 20
Stiff Little Fingers are delighted to announce a forthcoming gig at Custom House Square on August 20

Following their sold-out Custom House Square show in 2019, legendary Northern Ireland punk outfit Stiff Little Fingers have announced a much anticipated return to the stage at the same venue on Saturday August 20 alongside an all-star line-up of guests and friends including The Selecter, The Undertones, Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts and punk godfather DJ Terri Hooley.

The now iconic punk act, who formed in 1977 in Belfast, became part of the anarchic melodic movement of the era, embracing a similar sound to the Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Sham 69, and the Stranglers et al.

Stiff Little Fingers were at the forefront of the punk movement and initially wrote about their own lives and the tumult entailed in growing up at the height of the Troubles, in songs like Suspect Device and Wasted Life.

In November of 1977, they released those two songs on their own Rigid Digits label, and sent a copy to BBC Radio One DJ John Peel, who started playing it every night.

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    These were the first of what became SLF’s signature style: lyrics that meld the personal and political, music that combines the energy of punk with infectious hooks, and delivery that rings of honesty and commitment.

    In 1979, they became the first band ever to hit the UK top 20 album charts on an independent label with their debut, Inflammable Material.

    The album chronicles the band’s anger and frustration at conflict in Northern Ireland, and calls on the youth of the day to create their own ‘alternative’ identity, and a way of living full of punk spirit that defied the misery unfolding on the streets of troubled Ulster.

    Over the years, the band’s live shows continued to be special events of energy and power. Their studio albums demonstrate their passion and anger, each in its own way.

    In 1994 they released the Get a Life LP which helped renew interest in SLF just as newer bands that sited them as a major influence, such as Bad Religion, Sugar, Rancid and Therapy?, were coming to prominence.

    In August 2003, Stiff Little Fingers released their ninth studio album, Guitar and Drum, which includes a moving tribute to Joe Strummer, entitled Strummerville.

    After many studio albums and countless tours, Stiff Little Fingers now find themselves more in demand than ever.

    They are currently working on a new album, and many of the new songs have been debuted at live gigs, with a reportedly “tremendous” response from fans.

    With song titles like Trail of Tears, My Dark Places and Liar’s Club covering topics such as the recent economic collapse, lead singer Jake Burns, the only member to have been with the band during all its incarnations, creates lyrics exploring his personal struggles with depression, and the ongong blight of racism in our society.

    Jake has said: “You’ve probably worked out by now, I don’t do ‘comedy’ songs!”

    But the songs continue to inspire fans old and new.

    Countless people have already contacted Jake to say that My Dark Places gave them the strength to tell others about their own bouts with depression.

    Though focused on their new material, Stiff Little Fingers always play the old favorites at gigs.

    Jake added: “You have to strike a balance. The difficulty with a band like ourselves is to try not make it sound like a cabaret band. Obviously, it’d be very easy to go, ‘Hey, here’s another old one you may remember.’

    “A lot of the old songs the audience greet like old friends. I suppose it’s the same as any band that’s been around for any length of time. And yes, there are nights that we don’t particularly want to play Alternative Ulster or Suspect Device because we’ve heard them until they’re coming out our ears. But there’s always the possibility that somebody out there has never seen the band before, and never heard them.”

    Using the band’s rich musical foundation as a building block, the time has come to bring the newest chapter of the band’s music to the world.

    The new songs, penned over the last decade, show a definite musical evolution in the band’s sound and the result is their latest release – No Going Back in March 2014.

    Tickets for Stiff Little Fingers at Custom House Square on Saturday August 20 are priced at £35.50 (Inclusive of booking fee) and go on sale this Friday March 4 @ 9am from www.ticketmaster.ie.

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