WOW Tales: Stiff Little Fingers with Ricky Warwick

Saturday, May 18 2024

Stiff Little Fingers, opener: Ricky Warwick

This was a show that many of us on staff at the WOW Hall had circled on our calendars for a long time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. For those not in the know, Stiff Little Fingers are an iconic punk band from Belfast, Ireland that has been recording and performing since the 1970s. This tour, dubbed “Hate has no home here,” is also the band’s declared last — one final run through the states to say goodbye to the band’s loyal fans after a 47 year career. Longtime punk fans know how important this band has been to the genre, while others may know the name from a memorable scene in the film “High Fidelity” where one of the record store clerks explains how Stiff Little Fingers were a primary influence on Green Day and then proceeds to grab the band’s iconic “Inflammable Material” record…remember this scene?


Of course before the main course, for one of the biggest crowds we have had at the WOW Hall this year, we were treated to a solo acoustic performance by Ricky Warwick. Also an Irish punk rock icon in of himself, Ricky has been in several well known bands and currently serves as frontman for Thin Lizzy. In between Ricky’s catchy chant-along punk reminiscent of Frank Turner he thrilled the crowd with stories of seeing Stiff Little Fingers when he was growing up in Ireland and how they were the primary influence in his decision to become a musician.

Stiff Little Fingers upon taking the stage also had plenty of stories to share from their almost 50-year career. Frontman Jake Burns took breaks in between songs telling stories about how there was a mini-riot in Belfast when a British punk band had to cancel their show due to insurance issues…but the members of that band came out to talk to the crowd and swore they would return. “And that was the first time I laid my eyes on Joe Strummer” said Jake of his first experience with The Clash, and how the band indeed was true to their word and did return to perform in Northern Ireland in spite of the ongoing violence between British and Irish factions that permeated the era.

Jake also precluded a song halfway through their set explaining how they had heard a ska song by a band on their label at the time, and decided that they would record it and release it on their next album before the band that wrote it could release the original version. “Thankfully, some of them still talked to us afterwards,” laughed Jake, as the band then jumped into the song…”Doesn’t Make It Alright” by The Specials.

After the crowd went nuts during Stiff Little Fingers’ arguably most well known song, “Alternative Ulster,” Jake proclaimed of the WOW Hall’s humble sidestage space, “normally this is the time we would walk off stage and wait for all of you to demand we come back for an encore…but as you can see, there’s nowhere for us to fucking go!” So instead he urged the crowd to stomp and cheer as if the band had walked off, and after a minute or so of the band laughing at the moment they jumped right back into a couple blistering fast-as-hell classics before calling it a night and thanking the crowd for making their final tour so memorable.

It was for us too, Jake…it was for us too.

Thank you to the HUGE crowd of punk rock fans that came out in force to the WOW Hall this evening, and we’ll see you at the next show. Check out some photos and a video highlight of the show below.



WOW Hall Marketing Director



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