Government Issue - Seems like I normally catch a Christmas reunion show for this legendary harDCore outfit. But it is Christmas in July due to the fabulous headliner that these guys are paired with. This is a very different looking band as there never is quite the same combination of former players like Tom Lyle, Brian Baker, J. Robbins and more. This time it is a different rhythm section with original guitarist John Barry backing John Stabb's antics and vocals. Barry only played on their very first and very raw EP, but he handles the latter day GI songs quite well. Stabb is a lot of fun as usual and the band bangs out 'the hits' with plenty of energy. Sonically, it was not quite there for some reason. I noticed the drumming was erratic in the mix and some times too loud with an overall mudiness in there. I missed the clarity of other shows, but hey it's punk rock and it was a decent enough opening set to get ready for the return of...
Stiff Little Fingers - I always try to catch this legendary Northern Ireland band whenever they are through, although I missed the previous Baltimore show a couple years back. So I am more than ready for the return of Jake, Aly, and the 'new kids' Ian and Steve who have now been in the band far longer than previous drummers or guitarists. This is one tight unit with an amazing array of classic anthemic punk rock songs that tell personal stories as opposed to the more general variety of punk shout alongs. It think it is that personal connection along with talented and white hot musicianship that makes their music so brilliant. They were firing on all cylinders tonight. The guitars were perfectly integrated with the heavy beats and the incredible energy and presence that Ali McMordie gives the band. He has a menacing look, but moves about like he is having a blast, which just about everyone in the crowd is having as well. Jake shook off the early moment of stupidity (see below) and still has powerful pipes for the songs and plenty of stories on how some of these songs came about--he loves to talk about songs and his book has much to do about that as well. And the songs really form an integral connection with every fan of this band, whether they are the classics from the early albums or the fine songs that they still come up with today. Tonight it is as good as it gets for Stiff Little Fingers music and for someone like me who is reminded of the brilliance of the music that turned me on over 35 years ago and still can move me today.
Quote of the Night - from Jake Burns DURING the opening song with the band keeping it together. "Don't throw any shit at the fuckin' stage!"
This was a cup of liquid which sprayed across his face as he stepped to the microphone. He had to back away while the band churned out the rhythms until he could gather himself. Ya see, kiddies, some of the punk rock (and regular rock for that matter) shit really was never liked by most bands, even then and certainly not now. Although I am reminded that the utterly misguided 'gobbing' fad thankfully passed out of existence as nobody liked that.
Things settled quickly and this did not darken a great night with a good energetic group in front of the stage with no silly pits forming.