Stiff Little Fingers’ Jake Burns still outraged after 40 years and ready to rock hometown at anniversary gig

Stiff Little Fingers are set to rock Belfast on Saturday night -and lead singer Jake Burns says he can’t wait to “come home”.

The punk legends are playing their largest ever hometown headline show at a sold-out Custom House Square to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Jake (59), who grew up in Joanmount in Ballysillan and now lives in Chicago with his wife Shirley, says the show will be a long way from Paddy Lamb’s Lounge on the Newtownards Road, where SLF first took to the stage.

“Back then it was a pretty long show as we thought we had to follow the showband model and play either two sets or be up there for around three hours. We couldn’t do that these days,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

The group formed in 1977 at the height of the Troubles and two years later released their first album, Inflammable Material, which included singles Alternative Ulster and Suspect Device.

Punk is known for being angry, loud and political and Jake says that, far from mellowing out, he’s getting even angrier.

“If anything, I think I’m even angrier than I was as a young man,” he said.

“Things that should have gotten better seem to have gotten worse, with the exception of the situation in Northern Ireland.

“It seems that politicians have become more unfeeling and less caring than when I was younger.

“The ‘I’m all right, Jack, to hell with everyone else’ attitude seems to be much more prevalent than it was and people are being inured to the human tragedy happening around them on a global scale.

“At home, the defunding of essential public services and the proposed privatisation of the NHS makes my blood boil.

Stiff Little Fingers

“What’s there to get angry about these days? You don’t need a very big list to get started. So, let’s just say ‘Trump’ and your imagination can run from there.”

As someone who now lives in America and can look in from afar, Jake says that he can see and appreciate the massive transformation Belfast has come through.

“It’s always a pleasure to come back, although I don’t get much chance unless we’re playing,” he said.

“So, it was especially great that last year I had a week’s break in touring while on this side of the Atlantic and spent it with my sister and brother-in-law driving around old childhood and teenage haunts. Even the weather played ball and we had a fantastic time.

“Belfast has become a party town to a lot of my English friends who come over for exactly that reason.

“It’s great that they come to my home town to have fun when they would have never dreamt of coming over back in the day.

“It’s a much better place than the one we grew up in.

“Previously, I’d get slightly disoriented walking around town because certain landmarks were ‘missing’ since my previous visit. Now when I lose my sense of direction it’s because some new fantastic building has gone up in the interim.”

Jake revealed that it is the home comforts he misses most.

“I love Belfast. When I’m in the States I miss pastie suppers, potato bread and real Guinness,” he added.

“When my American wife had her first pastie she looked at it and asked what was in it to make it pink.

“We stared at the pasties, then at her and finally my brother-in-law Alan said, ‘You’re probably best not knowing’. We got to share her’s from that point on.”

Belfast Telegraph


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