Stiff Little Fingers

Stiff Little fingers/Love Zombies/Electric River
Stiff Little fingers NO GOING BACK TOUR 2015
The Forum Kentish Town, London 26/3/2015
Live review: Fiodora P 
Photos: Svenja Block


Sharing the tour dates with Electric River, both bands support SLF at the London Show.

A relatively new band, fronted and co founded by the gorgeous American doll, Hollis Mahady, after meeting up with Davey Fitzsimon, -rhythm guitar/vocals, about  18 months ago . They clicked immediately and writing commenced there and then that night, with ‘Do Me Good’, the first song of many that came flowing fast. This band have developed cosmically, organically and relatively at the speed of light.

Already no strangers to touring  or festivals (Reading and Leeds to mention only a couple) and being the opening act for Ginger Wildheart, who incidentally is well renowned for his ability to find fresh talent and put them on the map – usually before the rest of us get to hear of them – thank goodness! coz Hollis is also the new voice of his ‘Hey Hello’. That too is an exciting poppy rocky outfit, another one to watch out for.

Where does this girl get the time, we ask?  Well, I think it’s due to her boundless energy and pure determination to make her colourful mark. Hollis is such a talented bundle of fun, passionate and humorous, in her quest for making a musical point, yet she is very serious about the sound, image and production side of her output. Their songs are all catchy, pop punk rock if you like and quite cleverly but simply written.

You can tell straightaway by watching their first official video single  ‘Be Honest’ and the rest of the band Rico Balest – Lead Guitar/Vocals, Peter Bunn – Bass, and James Bull – Drums, are obviously all on the same page and equally quirky and fun, yet all take their performance professionally and seriously.

For a more in depth insight to the LOVE ZOMBIES, the journey so far and what’s in store check their social media sites and interviews because they are great fun and very informative, but for now I’m just very excited to see them live, and with such a great UK PuNK Band as Stiff Little Fingers .

Initially I thought it a strange concoction and couldn’t envisage how the bands would flow together, Stiff Little Fingers have a die- hard fan base of 37 years and pretty regular crowd. I was nervous for the supports, thinking their gonna have a job on their hands warming up this lot. But I was pleasantly surprised how up to date and slick this whole show worked, I only caught a bit of Electric River and could tell straight away, this was not going to be how I first suspected. This male Rock & Punk band have a serious electric guitar sound and serious songs; they immediately put an energised buzz in the room, even at such early Thursday stage time, paving the way nicely for Hollis and the boys. Bless them …

Love Zombies kickstart their set with the wonderfully fast guitar intro to ‘Wee On You’ , the crowd (the first timers ) seemed a bit gobsmacked, I’m not sure if it was because this was so full on for starters or because they couldn’t believe how this punk rock Alice in Wonderland could have such a gooey voice, with loads of oowie ahhs , one minute  and then suddenly belt out such a strong chorus, you should have seen their faces when yet a further key change kicked in.

There was no rest bite. Straight into Teleportation, the crowd were still a bit numb, but that’s so usual for a London crowd, you get the ‘pit lot’, which are usually bopping around, lots of singing and punching the air and the peripherals, that are the usually “come on, impress me” lot … it doesn’t matter what age group you’re looking at. This is where the toe tapping really started. The boys continue to rock out to ‘Drugstore‘, by this time its unavoidably infectious and the crowd (those that still have it ) let their hair down.

I’ve never seen a girl fronted band quite like this one, with a hand held synth/keyboard-playing, singing AND  skiddaddling  around the stage with such endless energy, making use of every spare gap where there wasn’t a musician, a drum kit or a stack of Marshalls in the way. Such a beltingly, strong  voice, yet when she takes a moment to welcome London, thank all and introduce the new video single ‘Be Honest’ her girlie USA  accent unavoidably oozes out.

You can’t help but love this band; one can feel all their influences rolled into a combined glorious, well worked and produced modern sound. The set so far is like a juggernaut and the sound and lighting as ever at the Forum is amazing, it totally does all the bands’ and the whole show justice.

‘Big and Strong’ is their latest track, a much slower song, quite heartfelt and beautifully placed in such a relatively short set.

This seemed to be more up the SLF crowd’s street, watching intently whilst this youngster  band perform, absorbing the vibe, and appreciating the pace, ‘Love Turned To Hate’ is the one that steps it back up a notch, another punchy, poppy in yer face track, picking up the tempo  again. A bit of banter from our teeny weenie whirlwind, Hollis and everyone is back in that mad full on zone for ‘Gasoline’,  this one actually got a massive round of applause, proving that the audience, mostly an old skool crowd, were  still Up’n’Atom  and got the trip from this well chosen support act.

They finish off with ‘Birthday’, pleased as punch. The crowd are officially warmed to this power punk rock Medley, their work here is done. Whatever your age or taste of genre, if you’re in anyway Punk/Pop or Rock orientated,  you will love this modern fusion of American Gal, meets talented London youf ! with such a clever yet usually naughty use of the English language. Having such an understanding of current, futuristic media, this band is definitely one to watch literally, they make you feel all alive inside, again…and kudos to all that discovered them before me.

They have a new EP coming and have just been confirmed for the Download festival.


Just when I thought I knew how the gig was going with two very strong support bands and both being tough acts to follow – the party was just about to get really started of course – the majority in the room were obviously long serving Fingers fans and suitably relaxed and sweaty, they stood either poised at the front of stage or the bar, all eagerly waiting patiently for the next episode of the night.

Well, I for one, wasn’t expecting the full on intro, I thought I was at the wrong gig again, only for a minute though, until the familiar faces of  Jake Burns, Ali McMordie, Ian McCallum, and Steve Grantley came on with the equally  familiar sound of ‘Nobody’s Hero’  launching all into an immediate singalong, pints a sloshing as punters rush to resume their preferred positions.

Wow! – this is a bit full on, even for me straight into the even faster, distinct intro to ‘The Edge’, personally one of my old faves, I think I was about 12 years of age when I first heard this, but I still remember all the words, so do pretty much all in the room; it was almost like the band and the crowd were one complete thing, with the volume on 5.l surround sound.

‘Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae’, another earlyIish track taken from their 1981 Album  ‘Go For It’ is quite a snappy little track, with such a straightforward almost sarcastic message coz it’s so obvious: “Throw away the guns and the wars are gone”! No wonder everyone PUNK relates to this band, it pretty much sums up the need for such a voice as this. Without dictating, they generally just state the obvious but they do it in their own distinct way, many bands have a similar tone but none have been around for 37 years plus with such a reserved energy, they were one of the original punk pioneers of  ’77-78 and are still going strong.

The band has been known for the quotes such as ”not writing comedy songs”, I wouldn’t say they were too dark either, they have the balance of documenting life around them, emotional,  personal experiences as well as worldly issues that strike a chord and although a lot of their songs are political, solemn, heavy or controversial, their lyrics can be easily related to and appreciated worldwide. They are also being musically astute, easy to understand when you’re in the room with such a force and such a like minded crowd; the anguish and passion is still in there,  after all these years.

I didn’t recall them being so ‘poptastic’ – popular yes , but as a sound they are absolutely flawless.

As the set moved on, they covered all eras, and their 10 studio albums ,selecting the faves from their vast catalogue, whilst easing in  four current songs (‘Full Steam Backwards’ , ‘My Dark Places’, ‘Guilty As Sin’ and ‘When  We Were Young’), they did it with such crowd pleasing style, not necessarily  in date order but perfectly placed and paced with a few occasions where Jake would give a brief story and insight about the song and the feeling or why and how it came about.

Steve Grantley long term drummer, keeps it steady all the way through he just beats, creating such a solid drum sound, which is obviously the backbone of any professional band and part of the reason why SLF are so good live! Despite various line up changes over the years, Stiff Little Fingers seemed to always keep it in the family, familiar faces popping back in and staying for a while, always Jake at the helm, showing proper comradery. We all know the gigs not over, even when they reach ‘Suspect Device’, surely Wasted Life’ and ‘Alternative Ulster’, are still to come and after a quick breather, we were all ready for the grand ‘Alternative Ulster’ finale and with a third wind, the band storm this popular classic and the crowd are in uproar again.The whole room finished on a high.

To see such a line up with Jake Burns, Ali McMordie, Ian McCallum, and Steve Grantley in such a year as 2015, was incredible.

Their latest album ‘No Going back’ got its release in 2014 and went straight into number one in the UK rock charts after a well documented and very successful ‘At the pledge’ campaign raising one massive middle finger towards record companies who were not interested in this amazing album! Coming from their ‘dark places ‘,there is obviously No Going Back…only forward, great songs, great band, great gig, well orchestrated, well balanced and well appreciated. Cheers all, I suggest if you haven’t  yet had a chance to see them live – it’s a must see historic event,  such main players in the UK PuNK scene, still very much alive and still kicking it.

For official updates and accurate in depth history, use your rigid digit and hit their sites direct.


Love Zombies
Be Honest official video

Stiff Little Fingers

Fiodora P
Fiodora P
Up ‘n’ Atom

Svenja Block
Twitter: @SvenjaBlock