Stiff Little Fingers vs The Black Keys

My mate Craig and I went and saw the band Stiff Little Fingers on Friday night at the Forum, Sydney. SLF are the most legendary Irish punk band no one seemingly knows about. It was the first time they had played in Australia. For most of the crowd just like us it was probably the first time they had ever seen the band perform live even though they knew all the words. Given that they were at their peak with the debut album, Inflammable Material, in the late ’70s you would be forgiven if you didn’t know who they were either. For those who do know and like the band (me), conversation often revolves around whether you like their new stuff as much as their old. I fall firmly into the ‘I like the old stuff’ camp. I don’t like any of their albums past the Inflammable Material album. The gig got me thinking about how some Black Keys fans reserve all their cheers at gigs for tracks off Thickfreakness, as if the band has released nothing else. So I find myself in a bit of a contradictory position because I think the latest Black Keys album is their best work. I’ve said before but I found Magic Potion, although good rather repetitive compared to Thickfreakness. The SLF gig also got me thinking about what sort of gig the Keys would play in 15 or 20 years time. Would the crowd expect a Black Keys cover band-like experience to mirror the urgent performances they witnessed 20 years before? Certainly if the SLF gig was any benchmark the encore is seemingly reserved for the most well known and respected tunes. Luckily I don’t think it is the case for the Keys since Strange Times is seemingly becoming more well known than any of their material. It’s made it to Grand Theft Auto even for a whole new generation of listeners to note. As I recall Dan once saying in an interview after Thickfreakness was released, knowing when you’re on to a sound that strikes a chord with an audience the last thing you want to do is alienate your new found audience and stuff up all your momentum. So far I’ve been happy to follow the Keys where they’ve wished to take me with their music.

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