Caitlin Moran, review of Wolverhampton gig

MELODY MAKER, April 11, 1992, p. 12



THE Fall are one of God's little hobbies. In His spare time; at weekends, holidays and during ad breaks, He glues a couple more awkward corners, a few opinions, a few more un-hip wrinkles onto the box marked "Mark E Smith". Then he boots him out on tour and shouts requests from the back of the hall. So tonight The Fall mainly play God's two tip-top best-loved LPs of the moment "Code: Selfish" and "Shiftwork"; all crunchy, irritable stuff, keeling to this side with Steve Hanley's soup-in-your-ears bass, to that side with top-heavy, steel-plated, fur-trimmed hooks. "Gentleman's Agreement" is the most beautiful thing written in the last five years, though I wouldn't like to burn hyperbolic or anything. I'm amazed the front row's heads don't shatter, one by one, in a series of chemistry set ker-bangs of wonderment.

"Agreement" skirts around a piano riff of self-mutilating pity, then slams into angry geetar scouring. Mark gives his little yelp -- like a puma stubbing its toe in the bottom of a disused swimming pool -- and ploughs into the sonic cosh of "Immortality", which is the equivalent of repeatedly throwing your head against a wall and twice as good for the brain. The Fall are off-handedly awe-spun.

Most music is described in soaring, rising terms, bonds hurtling off into the stratosphere dragging amps and snapped mains leads behind them. The Fall do the opposite; they go twisting and jerking down. The floor ripples as "Free Range" does semi-seismic things to weakened parts of the earth's crust. Mark just stands in the middle of the stage and lets things spark off him; showers of angel song, demon-chant and groove sheering off his sides. Occasionally he drags the reluctant mikestand around to his way of thinking, and spits out gobs of poisoned lyrical disgust.

Mark E Smith is old, and he is wise, and he is grumpy. He is also a genius. It's handy to have one around.