GIG REVIEW: XSLF at The Victory, 3rd April

Wandering around the back of the pub while I stood and waited for the warm-up act was a man with no shoes on, manky white socks, shorts and a tshirt, who instantly reminded me of the cartoon character Beavis, only a middle-aged version.

© Steve Niblett

© Steve Niblett

I quickly realised he was the singer of the support band, Borrowed Time. The band went for it: the singer was constantly climbing the stairs next to the stage, hanging off the rope hand-rails and pulling his mic cable all over the place, nearly garrotting the guitarist. I could have done without seeing the singer’s dirty socks being thrown into the crowd however.

They played a self-titled song shouting “I’m on borrowed time, living on borrowed time; gonna make it mine.” I thought this was pretty ironic for a group of ageing punks. But I got it, and having only formed a couple of years ago they are embracing that borrowed time wholeheartedly, giving it their all with gigs throughout the summer and an appearance at a couple of festivals thrown too. Aren’t we all on borrowed time?

The set raced from one heavy punk song to the next. But the stand out song for me was ‘Primary Instincts’, maybe because I could understand more of the lyrics, maybe because it was more melodic. It showed a different depth to the band either way.

XSLF (ex-Stiff Little Fingers) meanwhile were missing for most of the night. At one point they were having a curry, later on they’d popped to Sainsbury’s. When they finally turned up the crowd of mainly middle-aged punks were well-oiled and very much up for it … except for one woman, who seemed to be enjoying repeatedly coming up behind random men, putting her hands up their tshirts and having a good feel. I think she was up for something of a different nature.

There was also a definite contingent of younger punks – dressed in Fred Perry polos and sharp haircuts – who got involved. And girls smashing into sweaty, pissed-up blokes three times their size and loving it!

This was XSLF’s first gig of 2015 and the opening night of their tour. They were in great spirits and from start to finish were completely involved with the crowd. At one point they invited everyone on stage to sing along to ‘Barbed Wire Love’, which most the crowd accepted and bloody loved!

They played a long, sweaty, ballsy set. Less shouty punk, more defiant in their lyrics, with a few guitar and drum solos thrown in. Everyone was loving it! It was a high energy and entertaining set. All coming from a band who clearly love what they do, love the crowds and the music.


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