More than four decades ago, Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) were at the forefront of the punk movement.
And the band formed in 1977 in Belfast are still very much in demand today, with their latest tour taking them to the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Monday, March 19.
SLF wrote initially about their own lives, growing up at the height of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, in songs like Suspect Device and Wasted Life. In November 1977, they released those two songs on their own Rigid Digits label, and sent a copy to BBC Radio One DJ John Peel, who started playing it every night.
These were the first of what became SLF’s signature style: lyrics that meld the personal and political, music that combines the energy of punk with infectious hooks, and delivery that rings of honesty and commitment.
After many studio albums and countless tours, SLF find themselves more in demand than ever.
They’re most recent album, No Going Back, was eventually completed and released in March 2014, having taken the best part of a decade to put together. Many of the songs from this album have featured at live gigs, with tremendous response from fans. Song like Trail of Tears, My Dark Places and Liar’s Club cover topics such as the economic collapse, frontman Jake Burns’ personal struggle with depression, and continuing racism in the west. The songs continue to inspire fans old and new. Countless people have contacted Jake to say that My Dark Places gave them the strength to tell others about their own bouts with depression.
Though focused on their new material, they always play the old favourites at gigs.
Jake said: “You have to strike a balance. The difficulty with a band like ourselves is to try not make it sound like a cabaret band.
“Obviously, it’d be very easy to go, ‘Hey, here’s another old one you may remember.’ A lot of the old songs the audience greet like old friends. I suppose it’s the same as any band that’s been around for any length of time.
“And yes, there are nights that we don’t particularly want to play Alternative Ulster or Suspect Device because we’ve heard them ’til they’re coming out our ears. But there’s always the possibility that somebody out there has never seen the band before, never heard them.”
So fans old and new can enjoy songs old and new when Stiff Little Fingers play the Lemon Tree.
For tickets, see the website www.aberdeenperformingarts.com