On Sunday 26th April, the venue was The Wheatsheaf pub in Oxford, for a mid afternoon round of musical merriment organised by Purple May. Dee and I had arrived early, so managed to get a good spot. The special guest of honour was the legend that is Henry Cluney, one of the founders of Stiff Little Fingers, and now touring with an ex bandmate, Jim Reilly, as XSLF. Henry was playing on his own for the day. For those who don’t know, SLF are my all time favourite band: I’ve been going to see them play ever since the Go For It tour reached Carlisle Market Hall in 1981.
Having seen Henry in the same venue last year, when he played in front of no more than 15-20 people, I knew some of what to expect, but it was also good to see quite a few more people had come along. It was great to see some familiar faces from last year’s gig. It’s hard to believe that one of my all time heroes was standing in the pub (did I mention the gig was free entry?) only a couple of yards from myself and the other fans. Essentially, it was a request show – after each song, we were asked what we wanted him to play and for the most part he obliged us. I won’t spoil things for those who haven’t had the pleasure of Henry’s company in a setting like this, but suffice to say that there was a lot of singing, and even more laughter. Henry was obviously having a ball, and the rest of us enjoyed it too. I have to say, I’m impressed that he was able to keep his place in the songs, as there was a fair bit of micky taking and loads of good natured banter. Dee reckoned it was a fantastic afternoon too – I’m glad I’ve been able to introduce her to some of the music and lyrics which helped shape my personality and morals.
I was delighted that I got a chance to chat to Henry after the gig, and to get a photo with him too. When XSLF come round my way, I’ll definitely be going to see them. And if there’s another solo performance – I’ll be there for that too!