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Stiff Little Fingers tell Paris crowd the whole world is behind them

By Allan Preston

Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers defied concerns over safety as they played a gig in Paris last night, telling the crowd: "The world has their hearts with you."

The concert came just days after at least 129 people were killed in attacks, including 89 who died at an Eagles Of Death Metal gig on Friday night.

Stiff Little Fingers, a four-piece that rose to prominence in the late 1970s as the Troubles raged, said it seemed like "the thing to do" to continue with the gig as planned.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of the concert, singer Jake Burns said he wanted to go ahead with the date as he remembered how it felt to be overlooked by touring bands while growing up in Belfast during the Troubles.

He added: "We heard about the Paris attacks when we were in Dublin on Friday night and we knew there was a possibility we wouldn't be playing.

"Right up until we were traveling to Dover on Monday morning to get the ferry, we didn't know if we would be able to play or not.

"We were taking advice from some people in Paris, but the promoter said he wanted the show to go ahead. We spoke amongst the band and crew, and everyone wanted to play if it was possible. We were happy to hear that."

Addressing the crowd at Back of the Mill next to the Moulin Rouge, frontman Burns said: "Thank you so much for coming out. It's an absolute pleasure to be in Paris this evening. We're just going to play a normal show. It seems like the thing to do - I hope you agree.

"Everybody in the world knows what happened in Paris on Friday night. Everyone in the world has their hearts with you."

The band then launched into Nobody's Hero, prompting a mosh-pit comprising veteran gig-goers.

Jake said he was "a bit more nervous than usual" before the gig but wanted to go ahead with the show for the people of the city.

"I keep going back to growing up in Belfast and coming through the Troubles," he said.

"I'm a huge music fan, so one thing I always felt very deprived of - because of the unrest - was the fact that bands wouldn't come and play. Whether that was because they were afraid or they couldn't get insurance, I don't know.

"I was just a 13 or 14-year-old-kid who wanted to see a band play. I felt I was deprived of that normal part of life.

"If I was living in Paris and a fan of Stiff Little Fingers, I know I would hope we would come and play. That was uppermost in my mind when we made the decision to carry on business as usual as much as possible."

Jake said his time in Paris before last night's gig had thankfully been "just like any other day".

The band walked onstage wearing black armbands as a mark of respect to those who died and guitarist Ian McCallum wore a shirt emblazoned with the city's name.

"Paris seems just the same as it always does," Burns said. "We got to the venue around 1pm, dropped our bags off, went for lunch in a cafe round the corner and came back. Seems like Paris to me and the same as it always has.

"I can't speak for the Parisians, but everything seems to be the same as it always was."

English businessman Edward Marten, originally from Somerset but now a gold leaf salesman based in Florence, Italy, praised the band for fulfilling their commitment to play the show in spite of the recent security threats.

He said: "I'm not scared being here, no. I have liked this band since 1979.

"I come to Paris for work but I usually time it when there are gigs in town I like.

"Well done to them for coming here at this time. Others wouldn't."

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