Stiff Little Fingers

BBC Live in Concert

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Recorded in front of audiences in London in 1981 and Norwich, England in 1982, BBC Live in Concert keeps the music, but dismisses the crowd on this live album originally released in 1993. The London gig was the better of the two, and was recorded months before drummer Jim Reilly's departure, with Stiff Little Fingers sounding on top of the world. The songs are delivered at a remarkably quick pace, which doesn't leave much room to maneuver, but so tight is the band that it doesn't matter. This is a group comfortable in their own skin, highly confident about themselves and their music, and it shows. On the downside, the band seem so pleased with their situation that the songs do lack the bite and bitterness that initially brought them to fame. In contrast, there's plenty of underlying anger to be heard at the Norwich gig, although unfortunately it is no longer directed at the forces that once provoked their rage. Unlike the more controlled London show, here the band sound much looser, but also far more at odds with each other, reflecting their fast deteriorating relationship. The emotion is rawer, the delivery rougher, and, while that should be a good thing, it isn't, with SLF seething their way haphazardly through the set. The result is an album that in no way captures the band at their all-conquering best, but remains an important document of the day, and a reminder, perhaps, that pride frequently comes before a major fall.

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