Stiff Little Fingers and The Angelic Upstarts Newcastle Guildhall 28th February 1979

Stiff Little Fingers and The Angelic Upstarts Newcastle Guildhall 1979
slfMy memories of this gig are sketchy, but what I do remember is that it was one of the wildest, craziest and most amazing concerts I have been to. It was around the time that Stiff Little Fingers were just starting to break through and make a name for themselves. They’d had some success with the singles “Suspect Device” and “Alternative Ulster”, and had just released their first album “Inflammable Material”. I’d already seen them play as support for Tom Robinson at the City Hall in late 1978. What I do remember well was that the place was jam packed; dangerously so. They had somehow crammed so many people in there that you couldn’t move at all. And there were lots of fights. The Upstarts manager, Keith Bell, aka The Sheriff, kept jumping into the crowd and sorting out the trouble. Both bands put in awesome, high energy performances; Stiff Little Fingers were unbelievably good: raw, full of energy and passion. The place went completely crazy when they played those classic songs: “Suspect Device”, “Wasted Life”, “Barbed Wire Love” their great version of Bob Marley’s “Johnny Was”; and when they played “Alternative Ulster” the crowd was going entirely nuts. I didn’t think I was going to get out of the place alive. That night SLF were, without question, simply the best new rock’n’roll band on the planet. The atmosphere was a mix of danger and pure rock energy. My mate and I lurked near the back of the crowd, being two of the few people in the hall with long hair. Where did those days go? Was it really more than 35 years ago? I saw Stiff Little Fingers again at Newcastle Mayfair in June 1979 (with support from the Starjets) and then at the City Hall a few times in the early 80s. They were always great but none of those gigs were as raw, energetic or exciting as that night at the Guildhall.
I’ve just watched SLF playing Suspect Device live in 1978 on YouTube and it brings it all back:

I’ll write more about SLF tomorrow.
SLF were (in those days):
Jake Burns – Vocals, guitar
Henry Cluney – guitar, Vocals
Ali McMordie – bass guitar, Vocals
Brian Faloon – drums.
“What we need is
An Alternative Ulster
Grab it change it’s yours
Get an Alternative Ulster
Ignore the bores, their laws
Get an Alternative Ulster
Be an anti-security force
Alter your native Ulster
Alter your native land” (Jake Burns and Gordon Ogilvie, 1978)

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