Cardiff The Point

1979 – The year Maggie Thatcher came to power, Nottingham Forest won the European Cup, Buggles released “Video Killed the Radio Star” and I saw Stiff Little Fingers for the first time. It all seems such a long time ago, and as I approach the venue I wonder if by now I should have matured and been at home listening to Frank Sinatra, whilst reading the Daily Mail in front of a roaring log fire.  Then the Fingers take to the stage, and the opening chords of “Wasted Life” blast from the speakers, and I think “Fuck No!” - I’ll never stop loving punk rock!!

that was then

Judging by the full house in attendance tonight I am not the only one who holds these Belfast boys (er.. middle aged men) in such high esteem. Whilst
 Jake Burns’ waistline has expanded somewhat with the passing of time, no one can deny the fire and brimstone that remains in his gravel-tainted voice and he still sings with passion and gusto songs that were written nearly 30 years ago. It’s difficult now to see how relevant songs like “Suspect  Device”, “Barbed Wire Love” and “Alternative Ulster” were back in times when
 the mass slaughter of innocents was a daily occurrence in both Northern Ireland and mainland UK. They gave a voice to the disenfranchised youth at a time when the only other notable band from the Province (The Undertones) were content to sing songs about chocolate and girls.

The assembled masses had a nice age range and I’m sure there was more than one father and son combo in attendance. The sound was tight, and note
 perfect, as befits a band who tour relentlessly and pride themselves on their live performances. The night's second song was also the title of their second album “Nobody’s Heroes”, and it set the tone for the night in as much as whilst the odd newish track was inserted, by and large the set list was culled from the first three albums.  'Roots Radicals Rockers and Reggae' rounded off a blistering opening, by which time Jake Burns was starting to sweat profusely and send sprays of sweat arcing from his fevered brow every time he changed direction mid skank.


this is now

It was also nice to see Ali McMordie return to the SLF fold after many years absence, although it should be said that Bruce Foxton had been a more than able replacement for the last 15 years.  Midriff-wise time had been kinder to Mr McMordie and in truth he was positively svelt, although it appeared to come at the price of losing his hair. However with his bass slung low he strode the stage with a certain amount of brooding menace.
“Roaring Boys” Part 1 and 2 made an appearance from the Tinderbox album, but then it was straight back to the oldies but goodies. “Silver Lining”, “At the Edge” and “Safe as Houses” followed in quick succession, and the band seemed to be enjoying the night as much as the enthusiastic crowd. So it continued with “Doesn’t Make it All Right”, which they were quick to acknowledge came courtesy of the Specials. “Piccadilly Circus” and “Barbed Wire Love” were both cracking and then a personal favourite in “Strummerville” which was, as always, dedicated to the greatest frontman
 that ever walked the planet (Joe RIP). “Just Fade Away” rounded off the night, but you just knew that they would be back for more.

A quick return to the stage prompted the encore beginning with their 1978 debut “Suspect Device” (can it be that long ago?), and then “Tin Soldiers”. Finally a song that is their anthem and should be held in as high esteem as “Anarchy in the UK” just for the sheer impact that it had when released. The crowd duly paid homage to “Alternative Ulster” and with it one of the most
 recognisable intros in punk rock history. The songs has truly stood the test of time, and with the crowd and band united in bellowing out one last “Get an Alternative Ulster…gonna get it now!” they were gone into the night.


Will I be back to see them next time? Just try stopping me !!


Set list
(courtesy of Cockney Bird who risked life, limb and her virginity to get it off the bouncers!)

Wasted Life
Nobody’s Heroes
Roots Radical Rockers and Reggae
Roaring Boys
Silver Lining
At the Edge
Safe as Houses
Guitar and Drum
Doesn’t make it all Right
Piccadilly Circus
Can’t Get Away With That
Barbed Wire Love
Fade Away
Suspect Device
Tin Soldiers
Alternative Ulster