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CHELSEA & STIFF LITTLE FINGERS @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 21.03.09 BY MEL

Our dear friend James Stevenson who I interviewed last year, has played lead guitar in this band since ‘77. We were heading out to hand deliver my recently published book ‘Mudkiss Interviews 2008’ to him. (plug plug)We also wanted to check out Alan G Parker’s favourite band, Stiff Little Fingers or SLF as they are better known. We trundled off to Manchester to see one of the few original punk bands still in existence, they are Chelsea. They’ve been around on & off since 1976 and their single ‘Right To Work’ was named as one of the greatest punk singles of all time. Billy Idol & Tony James who formed Generation X were the original members in 1976.

 

In the bar we bumped into a couple of ‘Strummercampers’, nice to see you again Davester. We missed the first band and didn’t quite catch their name, but it sounded a bit Rock ‘n’ Rollin countrified. Up front the crowd were getting bigger and you could feel the pushing and general swaying of the masses behind us, this was a sell out show, so we knew we were heading into a big gathering tonight. The audience were a mixed bag of regular people, skins and punks both young and old. I would estimate most were over 30, but a few youngsters milling around.

 

Chelsea tonight consist of Gene October on vocals (the original singer), James Stevenson on lead guitar, he also plays with The Alarm, & Gene Loves Jezebel, Tony Barber who I last saw playing for the Buzzcocks on Bass and Chelsea drummer Chris Bashford.

 

Chelsea were given a warm Manchester welcome, in the form of a shower of beer, they came onto the set to a few hecklers calling out to the band “Oh you decided to turn up then” (Don’t know what all that was about, but maybe they were late on stage) However James did make some comment to the crowd. Gene bounded onto the stage, resplendent in PVC jeans, vintage Chelsea 1977 T shirt, sneakers and with a roaring voice called out “alright Manchester”. They proceeded to play “I Could Be Your Toy”. Gene totally belies his age in both appearance and stamina. Half way through the set he hollers to the crowd, “Does anyone know anything about me?” he informed us that he'd opened the Roxy Club in London and even lent his P.A to the Buzzcocks gig at The Electric Circus. He’s also done a few more things, such as appeared in the movie 'Jubilee'. Gene’s still a force to be reckoned with and he gave a captivating and occasional volatile performance. He’s a joy to watch perform, I saw elements of Jagger & Iggy Pop, a live wire, joined by a group of musicians who have a vast experience of playing live so how can they fail to entertain!

 

During the 2nd song, James cut his hand whilst doing a Townsend windmill, catching the ball of his thumb on the guitar toggle, he grinned and bared it for the show but later he had 4 stitches.A true professional, carried on playing without running off for a plaster!

  

The band went off stage and the music began to play, we presumed that was it. Gene returned onto the stage giving the guy playing the tunes a bit of a mouth full, telling him he will let him know when it's time to turn the music on.They launched into a blinding 'Right To Work', then gave a group hug to the front of the stage. Great show guys!

 

A funny tale, the woman next to me on observing Gene October said "What’s happened to Jake?" I said “This is Chelsea, Stiff Little Fingers are on next". I enjoyed the set much better than SLF, the sound and vocals were much sharper.

 

 

Setlist

 

Your Toy

No Admission
12 Men
High Rise Living
The Loner
How Do You Know
All The Downs
I'm On Fire
Living In The Urban UK
Evacuate
Urban Kids
Right To Work 

 

(Setlist provided by James)

 

 

 

  Further dates for Chelsea:

 

Wed 25 Mar TBA  

Thu 26 Mar Bristol O2 Academy

Fri 27 Mar Plymouth The Hub

Sat 28 Mar Oxford O2 Academy

Mon 30 Mar TBA  

Tue 31 Mar Brighton Concorde 2

Wed 1 Apr Peterborough The Cresset

Thu 2 Apr Bournemouth The Old Fire Station

Fri 3 Apr London The Forum

 

Links:

www.chelseapunkband.com

 

 

Stiff Little Fingers are: Jake Burns: Guitar/Vocals Ian McCallum: Guitar/Vocals Ali McMordie: Bass/Vocals Steve Grantley: Drums/Vocals.

 

The Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers came on around 9.45pm and the crowd were ecstatic, the audience started immediately swaying, pushing & shoving. It’s fine for the atmosphere, but not good for those at the front being crushed on metal barriers. I managed to maintain some composure enough for a few photos, which didn’t turn out as well as expected, after a couple of songs I moved out to the side. The vocals were up way too high and it was ringing and echoing in the ears, deafening pitch levels. Jake Burns and co, deliver a performance in which the crowd was clearly overwhelmed by but personally it wasn’t something I was enjoying; it was much too hardcore for me.

I heard several classic numbers ringing out such as Suspect Device, Wasted Life, and Alternative Ulster. I missed the setlist, unfortunately which had been promised to me by security.

A couple of guys stripped to the waist and sweaty bodies ruled the front, it was time to head for some refreshments and cool down. So, after half an hour or so despite our general rule of head to the front we changed tactics.

 

On returning we headed to the back, but the hall was almost crammed like a chicken coop. I guess some people enjoy shows packed out, but I find it too claustrophobic, the sound was much better from a distance. Besides which I bumped into the immaculately turned out John Robb, we shared some banter between songs. It was so ear piercingly loud at times it was deafening, Jake appeared to be shouting the words or maybe I am getting old.

I do normally enjoy some of their music, mainly the older stuff, but I especially liked ‘Strummerville’ that shone out as one of the best they did tonight actually. Jake dedicated this song to Joe Strummer and mentioned he’s met him a few times and he’d been a great source of inspiration to him. We left just before the set had ended, it was too hot, too crammed and it really wasn’t our cuppa tea, as the saying goes.

 

If Stiff Little Fingers are your thing, check them out here:

 

www.slf.com

www.myspace.com/stifflittlefingers1977

 

Future dates:

 

Thursday, March 26, 2009 - O2 Academy, Bristol, England
Friday, March 27, 2009 - The Hub, Plymouth, England

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - O2 Academy, Oxford, England
Sunday, March 29, 2009 - The Palace Theatre, Bridgwater, England
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - Concorde 2, Brighton, England

 

Review & Photo's by Mel 21.03.09

 

Thanks again to James for another nights entertainment. I hope you enjoy the book and recommend it to others.