(reviewed by Phil Newall)
A Monday night, seems like an odd choice, but also a fine way to kick off the Easter half term break… So here I was again, the annual March tour by Stiff Little Fingers, and once again I was accompanied by my young son and best mate. Only thing with looking like some sort of Pied Piper and the obvious parental responsibilities is the lack of a decent drink, so all the bands were having to play to at least one clear headed, critical punter.
Due to transport cock ups we got there late so 1000 Fake Heroes were already on stage; thanks once again for the guest list/half price entry! The Heroes were occupying the same support slot as they had at Fingers last show; they have also supported Goldblade previously, as such they looked pretty comfortable, though we only got to hear the last three songs. Even on this limited offering it was obvious little has changed in the camp, they are still producing a solid Manics like sound, with clever twists and turns, certainly worth seeing again.
And then Goldblade (main pic) stepped up, now those who read my previous Buzzcocks review will be aware that I met the man [John Robb] himself last week, and was genuinely impressed with his presence, and enthusiasm; all in all a gentleman, a rare commodity these days. Now prior to this meeting I will admit Goldblade’s music had largely passed me by, ‘cept for ‘Strictly Hardcore’ so in the run up to tonight I had frantically been doing some late revision, but was also eagerly anticipating a live set. I was not to be disappointed, Goldblade are fucking awesome. From the moment they took to the stage, decked out in sharp suits with tunes to match it was pure magic; John Robb owns the stage, and exudes such immense presence, yet still retains enough humility to connect with his audience. The first three ‘Black Elvis’, ‘Who was The Killa?’, ‘Strictly Hardcore’, showcased the bands ability to produce anthemic powerful punk rock, plus with Brother John out front stripped to the waist Goldblade were unstoppable. ‘Power of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Punk Rock’ they were all there, absolutely magnificent, and then it was over. A shortened set, no more than forty minutes, but to be honest Goldblade had taken first prize after the first song. This tour is to promote the new album ‘Rebel Songs’ released on Captain Oi! – can’t recommend it enough, I urge you to go out and buy it, in fact buy two copies, elevate Goldblade to the level of stadium fillers, no one would be disappointed.
Now I reckon Stiff Little Fingers had a lot to live up to after both 1000 Fake Heroes, and a stormer from Goldblade, plus they are not touring a new album, the last being 2003’s ‘Guitar And Drum’, but Fingers still managed to pull off a fine set – with twenty eight years worth of material they have a lot to choose from, and tonight they chose some of the less heard stuff, Burns carefully introduced each track for reference, and like Goldblade took the time to interact with the now capacity crowd. ‘Silver Lining’ being one of the better ones, sadly some of the material veered into AOR territory, but we were brought back with ‘Guitar & Drum’, ‘Strummerville’, and a few of the more well know songs were hammered out ‘Wasted Life’ etc; at least the Liverpool ‘too cool apathy’ failed to materialise, a healthy mosh pit down front put paid to that. We certainly got our pennies worth, the initial set being weighing in at well over the hour mark, the deserved encore resulted in a couple before ending on the high of ‘Alternative Ulster’.
On reflection, we saw three very good bands, but Goldblade just blew the others away, Fingers were good, as ever but they just don’t have the energy and presence of the Blade.
Spoke to John Robb after the gig, and as he said it’s not about who was the best it’s about enjoying the music, so maybe my very minor criticism of Fingers is just bollocks – did we enjoy ourselves; hell yes, another good night.
And on a closing note – get along to The Masque, Seel Street, L’Pool on Good Friday – Goldblade take to the stage at 11pm and its only £5 to get in.