Punk's fire still burns

Back in 1982 Stiff Little Fingers played at the Ipswich Gaumont, and I was there.


Ipswich Caribbean Club

Saturday night

Back in 1982 Stiff Little Fingers played at the Ipswich Gaumont, and I was there.

They were not a band that garnered casual comments, they were a band that inspired loyalty, and that is still very evident every time they dust down their punk-pop songs and tour the country.

Saturday night was the first time the band have played Ipswich for 26 years, and although bassist Ali has lost his hair and frontman Jake has gained a few pounds, they still, in the classic punk parlance, 'mean it, man'.

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Ali McMordie and Jake Burns started the band in Belfast in 1977, and their songs reflected both the punk rock coming out of London and the sectarian troubles on their own doorstep.

Success came via the seminal 'Inflammable Material' LP and barring a break for 6 years in the eighties they have been touring consistently ever since.

A few personnel changes are inevitable, but current drummer Steve Grantley and guitarist Ian McCallum have been in the line-up longer than any of the other members, and clearly fit the SLF ethic.

Having seen them last year in Cambridge, I knew what was coming, and of course I wasn't disappointed.

The audience then was, as expected, full of men of a certain age, and time hadn't been so kind to many of them.

There were various stages of baldness and a lot of greying-black band t-shirts stretched over expanding stomachs, and I fully expected the Ipswich Caribbean Association in Ipswich to be the same.

On first viewing it seemed to be true, but glancing around I noticed pockets of younger punters - singing along!

It brought joy to my heart, realising that these kids have clearly been plundering their dads' record collections, and stealing all the best stuff. Keep looking, chaps!

Support came from Ipswich legends Red Flag 77, and promoter Dave Suspect's own band Suspect Device. Both did sterling work, and I hope Dave will continue to bring bands of this calibre to the town.

Stiff Little Fingers? They put on a great show, as always. My throat hurts from singing along to every word, my face hurts from grinning all the time, and my legs hurt from standing on my toes straining to see better. It was loud, it was hot and it was fun, and that's all we want.

One of SLF's songs has the line “I believe in the power of guitar and drum”. I couldn't put it any better myself.

Stephen Constable

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