Who: Stiff Little Fingers
Where: The Junction, Cambridge
When: Thursday 22nd March, 2012
35 years is a long time in music, a bloody long time. However this week at The Junction, you might have been mistaken for thinking it was 1977 all over again. Stiff Little Fingers were in town and it seemed every old punk in Cambridgeshire had dusted off their leather jacket, reattached their safety pin piercings and had come down for a right old knees up. The t-shirts on show read like a who’s who of 1970s punk – The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Anti Nowhere League – they were all there, and there was a definite buzz of anticipation as the masses gathered for the Cambridge leg of this 35th anniversary tour.
As the band took to the stage and the opening bars of ‘Wasted Life’ sounded; that buzz of anticipation exploded into the roar of several hundred voices together and a mass of bodies pogoing – and we were off. Group founder and front man Jake Burns still has the gusto and raw energy to lead the band and even more so the crowd, and as they moved through their extensive backlist – with all the favourites included – they showed no sign of letting up. Sometimes with older bands like this, reunion or anniversary gigs can have the feel of just reeling off all the old classics, to the point that the familiarity becomes almost dull. Stiff Little Fingers avoided this magnificently. Proving that none of their political roots had wavered over the years; a finger went up to the BNP and Nick Griffin, there was new material regarding the Occupy movements which were denounced as “just having a quiet sit down until the Police move you on, you need to actually fucking do something” and the airing of ‘Strummerville’ gave a poignant nod of the head the band’s main inspiration, The Clash. As ‘Suspect Device’ and ‘Tin Soldiers’ closed the main set, the band returned for not one, but two encores, and in all honesty they could have played all night without any complaint.
As the grinning, sweaty masses departed The Junction with the strains of ‘Barbed Wire Love’, ‘Johnny Was’ and ‘Alternative Ulster’ still ringing in their ears, it was clear to see the band still has the same effect as ever, even after 35 years. Deriving their name from the Vibrators lyric, “If it wasn’t for your stiff little fingers nobody would know you were dead” it was clear to see that Stiff Little Fingers as a band aren’t dead, the passion their army of fans has for them isn’t dead and as for Punk? Punk definitely aint dead.