THE HOOKS (naming themselves after catchy choruses - not implements) featured two Irish expat vocalist/guitarists, brothers Ronan and Keith Mulligan, playing jangle-popped power-punk informed by the psych/folk-side of 60's beat (e.g., The Hollies, The Searchers, etc.) with a onetime drummer of The Flipsides. I'm partial to guitar-pop that "crunches" rather than "jangles" and Brit-beat spun off from R&B, so their set sounded toothless and uninspiring to my ears except for the hardest-driving songs: "Get Out", "Carry on Soldiers" and a straightforward cover of The Clash's "Career Opportunities". Ronan and Keith's breezy vocal harmonies were kept in check on the first two as they stacked pealing riffs using matching Rickenbackers that owed a debt to the Burns/Cluney guitarwork of pre-'93 S.L.F. I think if the rest of the band's material had displayed similar influences they would have been passably good, albeit derivative.
The last time I saw STIFF LITTLE FINGERS at Slim's, someone was "boot partied" outside and had to be carried away in an ambulance. Fortunately, nothing like that happened at this show. They took the stage subsequent to their intro-theme "Go for It" ringing over the house speakers, and kicked into "Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae" followed by well- and not-so-well-liked selections from Get a Life and Guitar and Drum. At their best, S.L.F. were formidable - vocalist/lead guitarist Jake Burns delivered socio-political missives in a pugnacious bark or lilting croon that rose above his and rhythm guitarist Ian McCallum's anthemic riffs, Ali McMordie's up-scale basslines and drummer Steve Grantley's tumbling beats. An audience member's makeshift "Play Harp!" banner inspired a spur-of-the-moment rendition of the song, prefaced by Jake cracking, "We haven't rehearsed this, but couldn't disappoint the bloke with the sign. So if it sounds crap, blame him." The latter half of their performance focused on Inflammable Material/Nobody's Heroes era crowd-pleasers that turned the stagefront crush into a pogo-mob.
All words © Dave Negative
Edited by Patricia Cram
Photo Credits: The Hooks, thehooksmusic.com; Stiff Little Fingers, Kev Inr