"Falling Over"

MELODY MAKER, October 19, 1996, p. 4

THE FALL's latest tour descended into chaos last week after guitarist Brix Smith left the band, and leader Mark E Smith's subsequent behaviour led to police being called to two dates. One of those shows ended when Smith collapsed on stage, and had to be carried off by other band members. A show at Folkestone Lees Cliff Hall last Wednesday (October 9) was cancelled.

Brix, who rejoined The Fall last year after a six-year absence, walked out on the band before their show at Motherwall Concert Hall on October 5, for reasons that have yet to be explained. What is clear is that her ex-husband's behaviour then became erratic.

On October 6, fans at the South Shields Custom House Theatre were kept waiting for two hours before being told that The Fall would not be appearing, and police had to be called after some punters vented their frustration on the venues and its staff.

When asked about the upheavals, a spokeswoman for The Fall's Cog Sinister organisation would only say: 'I can confirm that Brix has left, but beyond that I'm not in a position to comment."

At Worthing Assembly Hall the next night, police were called again after a monitor engineer was allegedly threatened by the Fall singer.

The Fall reportedly appeared onstage 70 minutes late, and Smith opened by picking up a guitar, attempting to play a few chords and then throwing the instrument aside.

A Brighton Evening Argus report states that Smith "collapsed onstage 45 minutes into the show, finally collapsing and being carried off by other band members during an eventful evening... Having trouble standing, Smith then handed two microphones out into the audience and was happy to stand, face distorted but smiling, while the audience sang to the band's music.

When one of the crew tried to retrieve the mics, Smith took offence and threw them and a stand at the roadie.

"Shortly after this, he staggered offstage, finding difficulty getting off. He had a moment of clarity when he returned, minus his shirt but wearing a large anorak. After being hit on the head by what appeared to be a packet of tobacco, the old Smith kicked in with: 'Hold your fire, hold your fire. Remember, you are in a provincial area.'

'Shortly after this, he went over to the bassist said something in his ear, and was helped offstage again."

Trevor Gray, for Worthing Borough Council, later said: "We have spoken to the band's management company and we are not paying the band for their show, due to the state of Mark E Smith. Some of the audience, mostly good-natured, asked about a refund after the show. If they show their ticket at the point of purchase, they will receive a full refund."