Dave Jennings, gig review

MELODY MAKER, May 30, 1992, p. 19



HAVE we been missing something all these years? Has there always been a dance element to The Fall's music? Can't say I've ever noticed it before, but now there's no doubt about it: Mark E Smith wants to make us move-ah. New keyboardsman David Bush plays a major role in this latest development, putting sequenced synth patterns into familiar Fall songs.

But, of course, Smith's manner is much the same as always. I thought I saw him smile at Stephen Hanley for a second, but I could have been mistaken. Apart, perhaps, from the bitter "Blood Outta Stone", the ghost of Brix seems to have been exorcised from the music. It was she who pushed The Fall towards guitar pop, but now they've found new ways to be accessible. It may be significant in this context that the once-poignant "Return" is the song that's most unlike its recorded incarnation. Here it sounds hard and mechanical, and Smith delivers the plea to "Come back to me," with his voice set on maximum sneer.

The Fall are still capable of switching into guitar stomp mode. "Mr Pharmacist", one of the very few songs tonight not drawn from either "Shiftwork" or "Code:Selfish", proves that point, as does "Dead Beat Descendant". During "Shiftwork" itself The Fall suddenly start to sound very much like that other Manchester band fronted by a distinguished non-singer, New Order. Smith would hate the idea, I'm sure, but it all works amazingly well -- the folk down the front groove and mosh like mad things. The Psychik Dance Hall has reopened. It plays hard dance music, purged of funk sensuality, and it looks likely to thrive.