Gallery and review: Stiff Little Fingers, Robin 2, Bilston

It’s easy to overlook how good a venue the Robin 2 is in Bilston.

Gallery and review: Stiff Little Fingers, Robin 2, Bilston

Stiff Little Fingers perform at the Robin 2 in Bilston

Since the Civic shut down a couple of months ago, the Mount Pleasant gig factory has taken greater prominence on the local live music calendar.

And the benefits are there for all to see. Bilston is definitely showing signs of a night-time revival.

A couple of the dodgy old town centre pubs have gone, but in its place are new offerings, such as Cafe Metro offering the perfect pre-show pint.

As for the night itself, Jake Burns and his crew have been around long enough to offer a safe bet in terms of entertainment.

True, the lead singer may be carrying a bit more poundage than in his younger days, but, come on, who isn’t?

And his expanded girth, covered by a Jockey Wilson darts shirt, is almost a physical embodiment of his ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude to public imagery.

You could say he’s sticking two (stiff little) fingers up at ‘the biz’. (Sorry.)

After all, it’s the songs that count – as he reminds us with a blistering performance drawn from almost 40 years on stage.

His Belfast fire still burns bright with the set opened and closed by Wasted Life and Alternative Ulster respectively.

I believe these are what young people call ‘bangers’...

In between was a lively run through a formidable back catalogue, sprinkled with newer material.

Guilty as Sin is a caustic verdict on sexual abuse in the church while My Dark Places tackles his personal battle with depression.

Nobody said this was going to be a laugh-a-minute, but to be fair, the band have lighter moments and Barbed Wire Love always raises a smile.

There were other highlights, Nobody’s Hero, Suspect Device and Gotta Getaway have stood the test of time well and were hollered back at the band with gusto from a packed house.

In the midst of it all, the band delivered perhaps the best version of Tin Soldier I’ve ever heard them play and At The Edge set the front of the house bouncing.

Forty-and-fifty-somethings they may be, but I tell you what, the SLF crowd can still jump around when it wants to.

Just as long as Mr Burns doesn’t fancy crowd surfing, of course.

By Keith Harrison

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