Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Stiff Little Fingers - Death by Unga Bunga -- Black Cat - Sep 26 2017

What is this, a return from the dead? Well, yes, but don't get used to it. I thought I would do an update one year after retirement. Actually, the real reason is that I feel obligated as the opening band's PR rep offered me a free show featuring one of my all-time favorites that I was planning to go see anyway. So, in the spirit of band reformations, let's reunite for one night only. As for me, yes, I am still in DC after looking around elsewhere for a possible move, but being convinced by my cat to stay here (moving about 7 blocks). I have just retired from Folkworld, so even album reviews are no more in my world. I miss all of this quite a bit, but my mind and body are so much better off that there is no going back. I still hit about 2 shows a month, which is a pace I can handle. An overwhelming workload has turned into special occasions. But now for last night...

Death by Unga Bunga - I had hoped that a band from Norway coming over for a tour as an opener would bring something interesting and they did. While you can slot them home into a gutsy garage punk category, they have quite a few tricks up their sleeve. They offer three guitars and a rock steady rhythm section. Their songs are a good mix of 60's garage rock, power pop, hook oriented punk rock, and even a bit of classic rock. The main singer sheds his guitar a few times to wander in the crowd with his mic (hopefully when they make it, they can afford a cordless). The band had a strong undercurrent to their catchy songs and it was fun seeing the crowd really latch on to their spirit. Near the end, they played a complex double lead section that was impressive and of course had me thinking of Thin Lizzy. So then they do their next original cut and in the middle go into the classic double lead from 'The Boys are Back in Town'. But that wasn't enough as all four of them played with their guitars behind their heads. Great fun and a good tie in with the North Irish headliners (and Jake told his Phil Lynott story as well). This band made a name for themselves with many in attendance and I hope to catch them again next year.

Stiff Little Fingers - This is their 40th year anniversary tour and I have been with this band pretty much since the beginning. I have reviewed them before here two or three times, so I can just add that they still live up to my previous raves. And maybe they are even better than ever, but that is probably part me. Now that I don't go out 3-4 times a week, these special events are even more memorable. They sounded great last night and the big room at the Black Cat never sounded better. Steve Grantley's drumming was massive and churned these classic songs to ferocious heights. Jake Burns can still hit the notes, although he added it took them many years to become smart enough to change a key so he could sing 'Safe as Houses' again. I hadn't seen 'Straw Dogs' in a while and 'Johnny Was' is back to start the encore trio. Great, great songs still played with passion and fire. While I like my reduced schedule and there's no going back, I am thrilled that I get an opportunity to see a great band that also reminds me of what I was and who I still am. Stiff Little Fingers delivered more than they imagined last night.