Staff Reporter, "Punk's fall was anarchy in the empire"
Belfast Telegraph, November 10, 1997


The show did not go on at Empire Music Hall in Belfast when a concert by vintage punk band The Fall was cancelled minutes before it was due to start. According to reports, the band's singer, Mark E Smith, dismissed his fellow musicians shortly before showtime on Saturday.

Smith was apparently in poor spirits when he arrived in town after a concert in Dublin. According to Mark Erskine, manager at The Empire: 'He walked off the tour bus, straight onto the stage and started kicking stuff about. He sacked the band and they went away.'

Smith also upset the staff of the venue by flinging a bottle of tomato sauce backstage, hitting the door of the main office. The manager, Mike Gatt, promptly issued Smith with a mop and ordered him to clean it up. At this stage, Smith was visited by Terri Hooley, founder of Belfast's Good Vibrations record label.

Hooley promoted a gig for The Fall in town 20 years before. After renewing their friendship, the singer and the record boss entertained the idea of performing without music. Mark E Smith would sing Beach Boys songs, while Hooley and his friend, Angus Daye would provide backing vocals. This plan was eventually shelved.

A somewhat sheepish Smith called The Empire the next day, looking for his passport and a collection of demonstration tapes. He apparently told the manager that he would try to make amends at a later date.