Words & Photos by Greg Jacobs
Stiff Little Fingers, Death By Unga Bunga, Kill Radio – September 8, 2017 – House of Blues in Anaheim, CA
This review is guaranteed to be 100% biased. Stiff Little Fingers has been my favorite band since before a lot you were born and they still kick ass today. Sure, there are a couple different members, but we still get to hear Jake Burns’ singing, songwriting and guitar wailing as we have since day one. And the original bass player, Ali McMordie, has been back with the band since 2006. Ian McCallum (guitar) and Steve Grantley (drums) have been with the band since 1993 and 1996 respectively.
They started their 40th anniversary set off right with Wasted Life and spanned their career through their 18 song setlist. While they mostly stuck to the old favorites like “Barbed Wired Love,” “Nobodies Heroes” and “Tin Soldiers” they added in a couple “newer” ones like “Strummerville,” a tribute to Joe Strummer, and “When We Were Young,” a tip-of-the-hat to Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott who, apparently, was a drinking buddy of Jake’s back in the day.
The band seemed to pick up steam as the show went on. I wouldn’t say they were stiff at the beginning of the set, but they definitely warmed up as the sweat started to fly and the crowd’s singing got louder.
They closed the show with a 3 song encore of Bob Marley’s “Johnny Was” and “Gotta Getta Way.” Jake pounded out the opening chords of “Alternative Ulster,” the song we all knew was coming, and then pretended to walk off stage with the rest of the band. They only made it about 3 steps before the kicked it into gear and brought down the house with the crowd cheering and singing along.
Thank you, Stiff Little Fingers!
Also on the bill were the Norwegian band, Death By Unga Bunga. These guys are great! 5-piece band, 3 guitars (when the singer is singing and strumming), bass and drums. I don’t know why, because I don’t know Turbonegro very well, but I feel like these guys have some affiliation to them. There’s a vibe that’s hard to explain. It could be the fact that their pants are a little tight or the drummer’s shorts are short, or the singer’s bowl cut is sharp? But whatever it is, these guys rocked! They were like a punk rock Archie’s comic book band come to life. I’d see them again in a second. Oh, and, I’d tell you what the band name means, but it would give this review an NC-17 rating.
Kill Radio opened the show and kicked my ass. Loud, distorted guitars over gruff vocals that still can hold a note. Lots of energy on stage. Punk rock for the new world. They were a great way to start the night.