Stiff Little Fingers / Impressive in 20/20 vision tour warmup

Situated ominously at the bottom of what felt like the world’s steepest hill is The Waterside, nestled on the bank of the River Tamar in Saltash. This is the home of Livewire Youth Music Project, which offers a full-size, well-laid-out live performance area amongst its range of impressive studios and other facilities. The venue hosted the warm-up show and forerunner for the Stiff Little Fingers “Sure wish we had 20/20 vision Tour”.

Stiff Little Fingers, Cr3at10n and The Butt Plug Babies

The Waterside, Saltash

8 March 2022

Words: Jools Green

Photography: Don D, The Lazy Photographer

What made this date a little different from the rest of the tour was first, all the profits went to the Livewire Charity, and secondly, the support bands were both young bands with close links to the charity. This was an occasion offering an unforgettable opportunity for both Cr3at10n and The Butt Plug Babies to share the stage with the legendary Stiff Little Fingers.

The Butt Plug Babies, The Waterside, Saltash
The Butt Plug Babies. Photo: Don D

The Butt Plug Babies feature former Livewire members, guitarist Morv and bassist Billi alongside vocalist Fatlip and drummer Muddy (Billi’s dad and also the drummer for renowned Psychobilly outfit Breakout). They are no strangers to the local circuit and beyond, building a reputation over the last four years, Covid-19 aside, for delivering shock and awe with the occasional political commentary alongside a lot of observational and real-life humour in their material.

The Butt Plug Babies, The Waterside, Saltash
The Butt Plug Babies. Photo: Don D

They opened with the scathing political number, Cont(servative) as always, mainly, because it was the first song they ever wrote, so it’s become a bit of a tradition and the excessive amount of expletives it contains always causes surprise and laughter amongst those who haven’t heard it before. This was followed by Beer Song, because ….well… “everybody needs a beer song!” as the chorus says, moving onto a couple of songs set for inclusion in their soon to be recorded second album; the political observation, M.P. roughly set to the tune of Elvis’s Hound Dog, a Horror Punk song with a twist to the tale, Stay Away From Me!, then a crowd favourite and true story about a drunken adventure of Fatlip’s, Grandslam.

They dropped back to older material with Wotzit Nazi, which is about “an orange politician and a rocket obsessed Korean chap”, before heading back to newer material again, F. U. 2., a song about people with superiority complexes.

The Butt Plug Babies, The Waterside, Saltash
The Butt Plug Babies. Photo: Don D

One of their best and funniest “fact-based, real-life” numbers is the catchy and popular I Once Tried To Shave My Balls, before they closed on Insert. “We have a lot of songs about butt plugs,” Fatlip says, “but this one will get inside your head.” It’s such a hugely catchy number that once you’ve heard it, it sticks with you, like so many of their songs. You need to remember not to accidentally sing them aloud whilst in the supermarket, which I haven’t done…honestly.. because it’s always the ones you remember that can get you in the most trouble.

Overall, a great set from a very popular local band who really rose to the occasion giving one of their best performances to date.

Cr3at10n, The Waterside, Saltash
Cr3at10n. Photo: Don D

The second support band and current Livewire members, Cr3at10n, have been around for less time but have been working hard performing live and building their discography. All released digitally, this consists of a couple of singles, a couple of EPs and an album, all released since last April, successfully getting themselves in a position to have enough material for this event.

Delivering an old school chunk of Hardcore Punk, they opened with Ode to Tinnitus (something I can relate to), followed by Audio Assault. Two tracks from their album, Small and the punchy and impactful Slacker, are followed by Sick.

Cr3at10n, The Waterside, Saltash
Cr3at10n. Photo: Don D

The two tracks that really made a big impact on me, Where’s It Gone? with its excellent swathe of second-half leadwork and the up-tempo Punk Fuck followed, before they drove it home with Officer, FBC and Trash Man.

The whole set was confidently and professionally executed end to end and with assistance from another Livewire member, Jasmine, who did a superb job covering for their usual drummer. Cr3at10n are a band that has also come a long way, very quickly, in every respect since I first saw them perform live, not that long ago. They are a credit to the work of Livewire but mostly to themselves.

Their music is available at Bandcamp as digital downloads.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D

This may have been a tour warm-up charity event for Belfast legends Stiff Little Fingers, but they approached it with the same high degree of professionalism that they would for any date of the ensuing tour.

I will say, right from the offset, they were utterly superb, a classic Punk outfit that has continued to improve with age. They delivered, in my opinion, and probably everyone else’s, an utterly stunning and flawless set.

A lot of Stiff Little Fingers tracks are inspired by social observation, but all are delivered in a heartfelt manner. They opened with Suspect Device, followed by Hope Street, Fly The Flag, At The Edge, Liars Club and Bits Of Kids, which addresses the plight of underprivileged children. This was very fitting in a venue dedicated to a very similar cause, improving the lives of young people through music.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D

Nobody’s Hero and When We Were Young followed, which frontman and founding member Jake explained was written after a drunken night out with the late Phil Lynnott. Roots Radics Rockers and Reggae were followed by Safe As Houses, dedicated to women, aptly as the date of this performance was International Women’s Day, acknowledging the constraints and expectations placed upon women throughout their lives.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D

Audience wise it was an interesting two-sided affair, younger fans looking on in silent awe and admiration and older fans who knew this material like the back of their hands, singing their hearts out, fist punching the sky, with the joy they were feeling making the years roll away from their faces, as the set progressed. A sight to behold. In the next song, Last Protest Song, Jake apologised for not knowing the words because they had only recently written it. To be honest, I don’t think anyone noticed if he did forget them, and it was a catchy track that I loved.

This was followed by (It’s a) Long Way To Paradise (From Here), then Barbed Wire Love which managed to create a bit of “a pit” with the older fans, much to my surprise and delight. The band dropped back to the anthemic Strummerville, the dedication to whom needs no explanation.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D

This was followed by State Of Emergency, another new track, Fade, Wasted Life and finally Gotta Gettaway. They returned for an encore of two more songs, the emotive sing-along Tin Soldiers and the all-time classic Alternative Ulster.

Any fans who haven’t seen The Stiff Little Fingers in a few years/decades, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. I guarantee, no matter how good you thought they were the last time you saw them, they are even better now.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D

I must also acknowledge the unseen heroes of the day, the other young people from Livewire, overseen by project manager Andy, working behind the scenes on the stage management side, without whose efforts this event couldn’t have gone smoothly and to Don D the photographer for allowing the use of his awesome photos of the event.

Stiff Little Fingers, The Waterside, Saltash
Stiff Little Fingers. Photo Don D
Cr3at10n, The Waterside, Saltash
Cr3at10n. Photo: Don D
Cr3at10n, The Waterside, Saltash
Cr3at10n. Photo: Don D
The Butt Plug Babies, The Waterside, Saltash
The Butt Plug Babies. Photo: Don D
The Butt Plug Babies, The Waterside, Saltash
The Butt Plug Babies. Photo: Don D

 

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