Live at the Gothic Theater.
BY TIM HINELY
My buddies and I had been psyched for this show for quite some time as it was announced a few months before it happened. Most of them had never seen 1970’s San Francisco punk band The Avengers but I had seen them once in the mid-00’s in Portland, Oregon. That show was original members Penelope Houston on vocals and guitarist Greg Ingraham along with the rhythm section from the Mr T Experience (Joel Reader on bass and Luis Illades on drums) and the band put on a rousing performance that night.
That rhythm section must have been busy for this tour but no worries, as they brought along legendary bassist Hector Penalosa (The Zeros!) and drummer David Bach.
Houston’s sneer is still in fine form and she’s a great performer as well, chatting up the crowd and punctuating words with actions like hitting the mic against her head and skirting around the stage. Ingraham’s guitar still is a major, powerful force and that rhythm section of Penalosa and Bach was absolutely spot on (didn’t seem like a fill-in at all).
We heard all the classic Avengers chestnuts like “Teenage Rebel,” “Cheap Tragedies,” “We Are the One,” “Second to None” (written by Sex Pistol Steve Jones) “Desperation” (which Penelope dedicated to all the folks who came up from Colorado Springs) and plenty more. They saved the end of the set for their Stones cover (“Paint it Black”) and their own gem, “The American in Me.” What a set! If they come to your town do not miss them.
Belfast, Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers formed in 1977 (heavily influenced by The Clash as leader Jake Burns stated on this evening) and released their debut LP, Inflammable Material in 1979. This is the 40th tour for that record so the band, of course, played that record in full as well as a handful of other old classics.
For this tour it’s Burns and original bassist Ali McMordie along with Ian McCallum on guitar and Steve Brantley on drums (both with the band since the mid-90’s so not newcomers at all).
They started off with a handful of other songs including “Strummerville” (where Burns talked about the Clash influence), “My Dark Places” (where he openly talked about depression) and the raging “Nobody’s Heroes” (off their sophomore record of the same name). All sounded terrific.
They then kicked straight into the great debut LP with the killer, stuttering “Suspect Device” as well as the jagged “Barbed Wire Love” , their great Bob Marley cover “Johnny Was” and the searing ‘Alternative Ulster.” Burns (who has lived in Chicago for quite some time now) still has the fire and passion and definitely provided fans their money’s worth. The still played with plenty of fire and passion (especially McMordie who looked on the verge of anger at times).
A great double bill of bands that started before many of these fans were born, but still showing ‘em how it’s done!