Patrick Widdess reports on Stiff Little Fingers / The Men They Couldn't Hang / Ed Tudor Pole at The Junction 19th March 2013

Junction 1, The

Stiff Little Fingers headlined a night of punk heroes and survivors at The Junction drawing a capacity crowd, some who were there when it all went off, others (myself included) who picked up the buzz in later years and a few offspring of members of the first category.
Ed Tudor Pole
Ed Tudor Pole was first up, the antithesis of a typical guitar strumming singer-songwriter. He came on stage with an acoustic guitar that was barely in one piece and a suit which looked like the ragged remains of his outfit from short-lived role as presenter of The Crystal Maze. He alternated between beautiful folk melodies and angry punk rock, a confusing performance for early arrivals to the gig. Over the course of the set his passion and energy won them over and a few even sang along. He’s Got a Moustache was an irresistibly silly number that had him blurting gobbledegook by the end.
The Men They Couldn’t Hang followed, a less eccentric but hearty crew. The five-strong band rocked the venue with songs from throughout their thirty-year history including any songs requested by fans in the pub before the show. From the solemn Green Fields of France to the furious Iron Masters the band were in fine form after 30 years delivering a set to inspire fans old and new.
Stiff Little Fingers
Stiff Little Fingers have been active for most of the last 36 years. In 2013 they are a slick outfit onstage; sharply dressed with glossy new equipment. Even their roadie was charismatic, strutting the stage, delivering sharp one-two-one-twos, sporting a red boa borrowed from a fan in the front row. It’s maybe a bit too slick for the Belfast rockers who emerged at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Still they deliver their punk-rock and air-punching choruses to perfection and the fans love it.

They delivered a handful of new songs along with the classics, singer Jake Burns acknowledging it had been a long time since they had put out an album. Their testosterone fuelled rock might not be to everyone’s taste but you have to admire Burns’ songwriting. He has a knack of picking something that inspires or angers him and putting those thoughts into passionate songs. A heartfelt dedication to Joe Strummer included the chorus ‘Goodbye inspiration / Voice of a generation’ whilst Welcome to the Liars Club basically wrote itself when he found himself listening to George Bush and Tony Blair whilst stuck in a traffic jam next to a pub called The Liars.

The band seemed to grow younger as they stormed through their set finishing on the songs that made their name in early days: Tin Soldiers and Alternative Ulster still fresh after all these years and SLF are not done yet.

Stiff Little Fingers

Writer & Photographer: Patrick Widdess