I’ve just had two slightly odd experiences while researching Stiff Little Fingers.
SLF were the first band I ever saw live, and they had a major effect on my life — which is why I was researching them: I’m writing a longer piece about the effect they had on me.
So as I was reading the Wikipedia article about them, I became somewhat confused. Because it says they split up in 1983, and reformed in 1987. Now the breakup I’d forgotten about, but it seems right. However, I saw them on the tour in 87. I saw them two days in a row. I had tickets for the Brixton Academy gig, which I think was on a Saturday, and then when Time Out came out that week there was a small advert in the back (I’ve no idea how I came to see it), which said:
Belfast’s finest. Shhh: a secret gig!
Or something very like that. It was on the Friday night at the Mean Fiddler. Which I don’t think I had ever been to at that time, and which was a bastard long way from Tooting. But I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see SLF in a small club.
What I mainly remember was that the Academy gig the next night was a bit of a letdown after the intensity of seeing them at the Mean Fiddler.
But anyway, the point of all of this is that as far as I remember things, this all was — or was billed as — their farewell tour. That’s why the t-shirt (which I still have) says “Game Over.”
Now obviously they’re around again, and I’ve seen them since, and bought albums they’ve released since. But my memory says they broke up in 87 (or it could have been 88, but I think not (though actually March 88 if this setlist site is to be believed)), and then reformed later. But Wikipedia and All Music both say I’m wrong.
I don’t know. Who would you trust?
Actually probably not me. I’m becoming more convinced as I look at that setlist site, that I must have seen them several times at the Academy, after moving to London in 87, and the supposed farewell tour must have been later. In which case the Mean Fiddler was a bastard long way from Walthamstow, but that’s still true.
The second odd experience was that I clicked onto the Wikipedia talk page to see whether the history was disputed at all. It isn’t but around five sections in there’s a section entitled “the?”, in which someone asks whether they were ever referred to as “the Stiff Little Fingers.”
And back in 2007 some guy called “Devilgate” answered firmly in the negative.