There are bands that when they come to town, it makes for a night to not miss. Perhaps it is because they are your favorite band. Perhaps it is the time passed since they last visited. It might be they put one magical performance every single time. In the case of this pair of bands, it is the latter two. It has been a big gap for The Avengers and Stiff Little Finger’s last visit, as a full band, to Phoenix.
Up first were the Bay Area punk rockers, The Avengers. They are a band I never caught live before. A fun fact related to this tour, they formed the same year as Stiff Little Fingers in 1977. Learning more about them in the Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk documentary elevated my interest in them. After watching it, they were a band that I dug further into their catalog. Watching them perform live was just the cherry on top.
It was amazing to watch founding members, Penelope Houston and Greg Ingraham, up there joined by Hector Penalosa, of The Zeros, and David Bach on drums. If seeing them wasn’t enough, getting a nice long forty five minute set made it only more fantastic. I personally wished the crowd to be moving more as the songs deserve, but I savored every minute of The Avengers performance.
After that was the first set for Stiff Little Fingers in Phoenix in quite a few years. If we want to speak anticipation, this held the higher level of these two acts. The night’s lineup consisting of founding members Jake Burns and Ali McMordie alongside long time members Ian McCallum, guitar, and Steve Grantley, drums. If that didn’t make the night cool, this tour is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut album, “Inflammable Material.”
One wonderful thing Jake Burns did for these songs was playing storyteller. He would go into the good tales and the bad behind the lyrics of tracks, such as the violence against a friend inspiring one. On top of the songs from the classic album, the set included other tracks such as their cover of The Specials “Doesn’t Make It Alright.” Lasting for an hour and a half, Stiff Little Fingers left us with a night to remember in Phoenix.