Rip It Up, August ?, 1990

Auckland Town Hall (July 5, 1990)


Winter brings the Fall to New Zealand, a hundred moons since their last stopover. Mark E Smith has kept Steve Hanley on bass and Craig Scanlon busy on guitar for the last decade and seen various keyboarders and drummers come and go. Now they're a lean sounding unit with a vitality long since lost in their punk-era contempories.

Entering the Town Hall, the red/blue lightshow heralds Extricate, the first LP out on Mark's own Cog Sinister label. The set is studded with past jewels like 'Hip Priest'. "Beer, cigarettes, whiskey welcome to the US" chillingly underlines the new society of consumerist escapism subliminally converting NZ into the 51st State.

Red to blue again, fire to water and Mark's cup overflows into the only tuneful singing from his caved chest: 'Bill's Dead'. His Dad? Burroughs? Time spent in a grassy brick paved suburban bed with pink sheets, drinking, sleeping in, sex, "these are the greatest times in my life" and looking particularly glum, not even angry, just bored Mark having "one of the worst times in my life". Here is a man who cannot fake it, transparent, like a friend you know so well after 13 years and 15 records "Bill's Dead' had the audience suddenly anaesthetised.

After clearing some dancefloor space with that obituary it was time to fight for a front row centre position, not easy for a grand-dad amongst a forest of angry short-haired territorials. Clinging to the security barrier, the front row are subjected to rounds of harrowing drum/guitar misunderstanding, 'Black Monk Theme' relieved by sponges full of heart-fettered keyboards.

'Telephone Thing', the "Coldcut" influence on the northerner's soul sound turns out to be an annoyed tirade against the abuse of telephones: having to talk to people you wouldn't have in the house, or worse still, they just listen to you because there's nothing to say, or they just wanna know what you're talking about to others.

This dude is unnervingly conscience-pricking, and not surprisingly the one time ectasy-has-been-pyramid-gamers are absent or early leavers. The Fall slithered in, ejected their precious to a humid few, and left in a hailstorm before most of us realised.