It had been less than two years since Stiff Little Fingers last graced the stage at The Gov. What had once been a near four decade drought in terms of Australian tours, had suddenly turned to a downpour.
Sadly though, whereas, in 2016, the band were fizzing with energy as they played their catalogue of old-school punk anthems to a new audience for the first time, this time around they did not manage to conjure up the same level of intensity or excitement.
The cause for this could quite simply have been the oppressively sweaty, cloyingly warm environment that was created by the agitations of a sizeable crowd of enthusiasts doing their darndest to pogo until they passed out. Or, just possibly, because, despite billing this tour as a 40th Anniversary celebration which intended to explore all eras of the band’s existence, the setlist SLF presented was, in fact, pretty much identical to last time they played in Adelaide, to the point where Jake Burns’ stage patter was an almost word perfect match fwith his banter in 2016.
He spoke of his constant battle with depression before playing My Dark Places; again spoke of his friendship with Phil Lynott as the intro to their co-write, When We Were Young; and confessed once more to his devoted admiration of Joe Strummer before launching in to a sadly impotent version of their classic, Strummerville.
The resultant effect was that, on the night, they came across as a band merely going through the motions, and, whilst some of their songs are, inarguably, too important to be ignored, being as indelibly etched in punk rock DNA as they are, the delivery was often marred by the lack of musical variation song to song, and a seemingly manic desire to get through the set as fast as they could.
We were given the history of 40 years of Stiff Little Fingers in under and hour, with a short ten minute encore consisting of three of their greatest contributions to the genre – Johnny Was, Gotta Getaway and the iconic Alternative Ulster – and it was all over.
We were one of the last stops on the band’s year-long celebration of their four decades treading the boards, and whilst it is totally understandable that they would be more than a little battle weary by this stage – they still should have made a better fist of disguising this.
In fairness, there would have been many going home muscle weary, happily sweaty and soaked to the skin after this show, but for me, I felt just a little bit ‘stiffed’ by what the band offered up to their Adelaide fans on this outing.
Stiff Little Fingers performed at The Gov on Tuesday 20 February 2018.