Stiff Little Fingers Best Served Loud – Live at Barrowland

Available 23 June

Belfast punk legends Stiff Little Fingers celebrate their 40th anniversary by releasing Best Served Loud – Live at Barrowland on June 23. Recorded at the iconic Glasgow venue on St Patrick’s Day 2016, this was the 25th year in succession SLF had performed on St Patrick’s day at the venue which they have come to regard as being their spiritual home. Originally filmed and recorded as a direct to fan release only, the concert will now be released by earMUSIC in a variety of formats including CD, DVD, 2LP and for the first time, Blu-Ray.

That SLF are still going strong after 40 years in the business is a brilliant thing, because they are one of the few direct links back to the golden age of punk. This was a time when a pre-internet mobilisation of an angry, disaffected youth stepped up to the plate, challenged authority and changed music forever. And as I fired up the album for the first time, it became very clear, very quickly, that Jake Burns and the guys have lost none of the passion and drive to highlight social injustice and keep fighting the fight.

If like me you’re familiar with SLF’s early work but haven’t played any of their music in years, listening to Best Served Loud for the first time is a really excellent music experience. On the one hand it’s fantastic to get reacquainted with classic songs like Suspect Device and Alternative Ulster, which Jake Burns and the guys tear through like it was 1979 all over again. But on the other, since I’ve missed so much of the material they’ve released since Now Then…, it’s almost like being introduced to a completely new band.

Best Served Loud is packed with sort sharp 3 minute shocks of pure punk energy. SLF may have been in the business for 40 years, but if this performance is anything to go by they’ve lost none of that fire, grit and intensity. I’ve listened to quite a few live albums in recent times and I’ve been struck by the number of performances where it feels like the band are just going through the motions. This performance was anything but.

It’s really interesting to see how those 40 years of life experience have influenced Jake Burns’ songwriting. From originally writing about what was happening around him during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in recent years he looked inwards to his battles with depression following a divorce to write songs like My Dark Places. There are other changes in pace and style throughout the album which serve to highlight why SLF have always been regarded as being one of the most musically talented punk bands of their generation.

Best Served Loud is everything you could hope a 40th anniversary celebration should be, as it captures the performance of an iconic band on a really special evening. They have not allowed the passage of time to slow them down, or let their standards drop. And in doing so they have put a few other well established rock bands I could mention to shame with this live recording. Make no mistake, on this evidence Stiff Little Fingers remain right at the top of their game. And lets face it, with the amount of social injustice, dodgy politicians and corrupt banking institutions that we are surrounded by these days, we need bands like SLF more than ever. Buy the album.


1  Go For It/Wasted Life
2 Just Fade Away
3  Roots, Radicals, Rockers And Reggae
4  Guitar & Drum
5  Nobody’s Hero
6  Back To Front
7  Barbed Wire Love
8  Listen
9  Doesn’t Make It Alright
10  Silver Lining
11  Guilty As Sin
12  At The Edge
13  Strummerville
14  My Dark Places
15  Fly The Flag
16  When We Were Young
17  Tin Soldiers
18  Suspect Device
19  Gotta Getaway
20  Alternative Ulster