David Swift

Melody Maker, May 23, 1987, p. 19



TIME WAS when even a drum coda could send a Fall audience into paroxysms.

It goes like this: BOM! BAM!



Know the one? 'Totally Wired', a friendly visitor from another Fall-time.

Irrefutable proof that The Fall are today's news today to this crowd - mostly aged 17-20 - arrives when barely a third prick up their lugs to that primitive beacon. Yet they crank madly to the new 'Wrong Place Right Time'.

A historical perspective on successive Fall line-ups in concert has always been redundant by the very nature of the operation. Mark E. Smith has stepped sideways aplenty, but with toes pointed forward. Progress has been good to The Fall, so it alarms me, as a 'phile' from way back, to find the last two LPs engrossing me not one hoot.

The lean machine that was 'Bend Sinister', already a classic of its time yet only two years old (see what I mean?), shits from on high over the flat pancake of 'Kurious Oranj', I would contend.

Tonight, to my disappointment there is no whiff of 'US 80s, 90s' or 'Shoulder Pads', nary a sign of 'L.A.' or 'Ghost In My House' even. Again, though, this is the mark of Smith's beast, and so I accept the new and let those who ride decide.

A wah-wah mantra sidles into 'Carry Bag Man' and already the crowd are up and jumping. It and 'Wrong Place Right Time' sound just that little bit four-square in the rhythm section to be of any vintage. 'Hit The North' sets things moving in better fashion, yet how I wished the duck's-ass synth squawk could have been pumped up to stun as per the ever-indescribable squall of Smith.

The ultra-primal go-go punker which followed gave the faltering drums the chance to reclaim nerves and stay on course. There's a hint of full circle about such a moment. The keyboards are spanked in tones familiar to all who were spoon-fed 'Witch Trials' when spikey babies, and the guitars come on like a veritable Texas flashback.

For years - and try as you might - The Fall never did 'Totally Wired' for you. Spite quite right, but now it's received as if an 'Oranj' outtake and is pounded superbly, extended and trampled.

It's good enough to erase the memory of (is it called?) 'Stretch', dawdling, near-indulgent vacuum of a thing, Bah! I was more happily engrossed in an apparent glam-rock treatment of the autobiographical killer 'Hip Priest'.

To a backbeat disarmingly pinched direct from 'Rock 'n' Roll Part One' by the Raven loony, Smith again invited all and sundry to "drink the long draught down", only now we should "check the record, check the guy's track record".

Alas, a little too tempting. Apart from one other mystery thumper tonight The Fall delivered mere scraps.

If my own perspective seems a little regressive, forgive. But I prefer live, the black smoulder of the 'Wonderful And Frightening World' sound, or the rockabilly speed-ball of that cracking double-drummers line-up from the early part or this decade.

This Fall, this homeless Fall, are not kicking out those jams, they are bottling them. Comparatively speaking, of course.