Fall News

The Fall finished the US tour Sunday night with three triumphant gigs at the New York Knitting Factory. They have one more gig in Manchester scheduled, and then they apparently play the All Tomorrow's Parties thing in Camber Sands next April. There's also word of a more extensive US tour in April as well - let's keep our fingers crossed.

Tues., Nov. 13

Knitting Factory, Los Angeles (MES spoken word, or "ranting and raving" according to the KF site). Support: Lydia Lunch.

Wed., Nov. 14 Knitting Factory, Los Angeles (support: Theory of Ruin, Mecca Normal)
Thurs., Nov. 15 Knitting Factory, Los Angeles (support: Flash Express, Midget Handjob)
Mon., Nov. 19 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco (support: Erase Errata, the Evening)
Tues., Nov. 20 Crocodile Cafe, Seattle (support: Kinski)
Fri., Nov. 23 Knitting Factory, New York
Sat., Nov. 24 Knitting Factory, New York
Sun., Nov. 25 Knitting Factory, New York
And the tour winds up in Manchester...
Thurs., Nov. 29

The Footage and Firkin, Oxford Road, Manchester (gig moved from Planet K).

Andrew Norman kindly sent the booking details:

Tickets available from Piccadilly Ticket Agency (0161 832 1111) £9.50 +£1.50 bkg fee

or in person from Virgin megastores in MCR & Liverpool.

or (very limited number) in person from the venue (0161 275 9164) £9.50 + ten bob bkg fee.

Doors 20:00, Closes 02:00, venue manager guesses group off by about 23:00. (someone should run a sweepstake!)


There are several gig reports in the Fall News archive: UK dates in October 19, Euro dates in November 5, and the London Forum gig in November 13. If you want to send me a review, it's not too late. I'll add them to the relevant edition.


The US tour

Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, Nov. 13, 2001 (MES spoken word)

Pat-Trip Burke:

It happened. Phrase "load of toss" springs to mind. ...

Total of about 60 people, with KF set up with tables & chairs. Let the salon be convened.

Begin with Adele Bertei reading a chapter from her lesbian prison novel. Not bad.

Gayle Ann Dorsey does a couple songs (one folky one gospel).

Lydia Lunch does a predictable but energetic feminist politics speech. Pretty garden variety stuff really: oppression, internalized patriarchal values, etc. Whatever.

Chris D. does an inventive but lethargic series of readings from his own & classic 19th cent. texts (forget what those were). Whatever thanks to monotone delivery.

AYAMW as background music while they set up for MES. Not nearly as bad as I feared, but not on sale anywhere.

MES appears after lamp & table are brought out & adjusted to his liking (everyone else had to make do with a music stand to read from). Launches into a powerful Enigrammatic Dream (LNWQ at one point = "Lower Northern Western Quarter" also friend Matthew "the bat-eared twat"). A couple of new things, along with an expanded & improved Dissolute Singer. Also read-out versions of Idiot Joy & Luc Over Lancs. Skitterings of noise & scraps of tunes as backing (maybe just a snippet of Art Bell, something about Ron Howard). MES in very good voice, enunciating clearly, maybe even a little stilted. Audience in palm of hand! ... As I called it yesterday, 20 min (okay, maybe 25), & he walks off.

Crowd goes wild. Return for Life Just Bounces. The end. ... Crowd begins rhythmic clapping, taking form briefly as an impromptu Rowche Rumble, but with no result.

Dame Darcey appears & does a half-hour set of murder ballads &c. , variously with banjo, tambourine & (unsuccessfully) musical saw. Heartfelt but tuneless. Best of the night.

No other FFs except me pal Mike in evidence. Tchuh!

So, what there was of MES was good, but there wasn't nearly enough. Mike said Mark didn't even break a sweat, & asked whatever happened to the famous work ethic.

What did we do wrong? Not shout out "I Am Bobby"? Not send enough drinks up to the stage? What? ...

Regroup & try for tomorrow.

Cole Coonce: [Cole also posted these wonderful photos taken by Kamil Kruta.]

It was top drawer. Decent house. Opening act Lydia Lunch was angry (surprise) so I missed most of her "act." Follow-up Chris D was beyond dreary and boring. I bailed on that as well. MES was nervous beforehand (!) but came on to fervent applause and an echo-y tape loop of Smithsonian Curations on Charles Manson and Craig Breedlove on the Venice Beach boardwalk. MES looosened up immediately and read sitting down with a retro chic houselamp for backlight. Did bits on Mad Cow Disease -- which he interrupted with a joke that had comedic timing -- and then segued into Idiot Joy Showland, Lucifer Over Lancashire, etc... the Fall's manager, Ed, and Cousin Roy Gittens jammed on spoons, washboards and a boom box backstage, which was surreptitously fed into the p.a. and drenched with reverb and echo and panned across the speaker system underscoring Smiff as he read portions of his body of work for about a half an hour or so.

Also: I heard "Are You Are Missing Winner" on the way home...much cooler piece of work than I was led to believe.

Wednesday should be cracking.

Slang King:

I was somewhat excited to finally see Adele Bertei in the flesh. It's only taken me, like, 20+ years? Unfortunately lesbian prison stories have never done anything for me. And Gayle Ann Dorsey didn't help.

Having seen her many years ago, but somehow unintentionally avoiding her for many years later, Lydia Lunch was far better than I expected. Yes, she's always 'angry', yet focused and current in her ranting this time around. Great fun.

Sorry, Chris D is a nice guy, but he didn't pull this one off. I think he knew it, too. Too bad.

MES was a delight. I didn't really know what to expect, but any expectations were exceeded. The addition of the 'sound' worked beautifully. (PS Hey, sell me that lamp that was behind him on-stage, please. It'd be a nice souvenir of the event!)

Dame Darcey? She made me nervous. Genius. Too bad everyone fled after the 'headliner'. Even stayed to chat with her. Yikes.

Henry Babcock:

Enjoyed hearing bits of the new album while waiting, sounded good, very repetetive, less produced than The Unutterable.

Lydia Lunch was enjoyable, entertaining enough. Better before she got all emotional towards the end. Chris D, liked some of what he read but was he nervous or what? Poorly presented.

First time seeing MES live, both me and Older Brother Michael. Smith's spoken word was just as I expected. Had pictured him sitting hunched over a table speaking into the mic, and that's just how it was. All the openers had to stand. Nice lamp too, along with the background noise made it feel like a bar setting, audience sitting with MES with folks talking in the background. Smith seemed in quite good spirits, encouragingly. Even told a joke, something like: "Two cows are standing in a field, one says to the other, 'are you worried about this mad cow foot and mouth disease?', the other says, 'it doesn't apply to me I'm a fucking duck." executed with, as Cole Coonce said, comedic timing. His dry, wry wit showing. Half hour and he leaves, the small croud cheering him back on for "Life Just Bounces", fantastic. Smith's poetic lyrics are almost perfectly suited for this 'spoken word' presentation. I can see him doing only that a few years down the road once he's scared away every band member and potential band member. We left feeling satisfied and certainly stoked for next night's show.


Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, Nov. 14, 2001
(a few photos thanks to Cole Conce)


Some out of order, but I think all songs are accounted for ...:

Joke / Insekt (forget which goes with which song, but we get the Janice Long lines & some "LNWQ .... for the East read Sparta." he really does say "Rome Andy" What up with that?) / & Therein / Bourgeois Town / Crop Dust / Kick Can - F'oldin - Kick Can / Pharmacist / Way Round / Jims New Fall / Ex-Classmate's / Antidotes / 2 Librans

Encores: Touch Sen / Dr Buck (featuring "realm of DJ Tong" / Damo Suzuki ("Ain't got time for Mancunian medicine!")

Band just belting! After slight sound problem on Joke, MES mic level goes up & never comes down.

Such raging power! Devastation on such a broad scale!

Very Link Wray/Stooges 1-2-3-BLAM! no-nonsense rock on 11. Weird to hear some of the Unutrable tunes in that style.

Basically just one guitar sound throughout, so a little bit wearing, but pounding beat also throughout. MES very intelligible & high spirits. Full hour set + 3 encores (incl Damo Suz!).

Mecca Normal were intolerable! Droney guitar with bizarro but unfathomable lyrics (song about boy & ladybugs & dirt had its moments, tho). I think they were trying to be the Handsome Family but it wasn't working. ...

Theory of Ruin also had much power (just caught one song but drummer broke 3 sticks during it I am told.)

Can they do it two nites in a row, or will the wheels on the demon train come off? Only one way to find out!

Slang King (thanks for the set list):

Missed both opening bands. That's RARE for me, but hey, it was my birthday...

Fall were different this time around, when compared to the insanity that last time at the Palace. They were similar to their very first shows in LA, back in the 70's/80's (sloppiness, etc), with all that entrancing power. Took friends who knew only a little about them, and it was either their first or second time seeing them, and all walked away very impressed. That's a better review than anything I could say. It was not their best LA gig, but I didn't expect anything like that anyway.

See pic, attached. (Thanx, SR.)

Can't wait for tonite....

NOTE: I have seen every Fall show in Los Angeles, the first occurring in 1979 at Madame Wong's West in Santa Monica.

Frank Maurer:

Well they made it to LA and are in fine form.....WOW, no walk off's, no BS and tight as hell (or a gnats chuff I believe) Such a treat after the '98 tour where Mark walked off after the third song, not to return until first encore.....The spoken word show on tue. was great, if a bit mumbled .....About a 30 minute chat, w/cool noise/atmospheric stuff playing in the background.....He even did an encore of Life Just Bounces!!! Seemed to be having a good time.....Major support from the audience of about 150...No hecklers.....Show last night was pretty packed and sounded great....Pretty much same set as European shows, but w/Mark singing during both encores, including Dr. Buck's Letter and a suprise second encore of Dammo Susuki, which was truly amazing.....All the new stuff sounded great, and went over quite well....No cd's/merchandise were for sale though....Shame as I don't think the new disk is out here yet.....We'll see how they do tonight......

Robert Green:

6PM: Stuck at work in Santa Monica. Big meeting with head honchos--we want to promote you and give you more money and buy you pretty baubles etc.--I don't care let me go have to get to Knitting Factory. Mercifully, all the good news ends and I leave.

6-7PM: The horror of LA freeways when traffic is bad cannot be overstated. Slow enough that one can roll a number for the road, if you know what I mean. The importance of a kick ass car stereo in LA cannot be overstated. Listen to Neu!, Tool, and King Crimson, keeping alive long standing superstition of not listening to band I am going to see...

7PM: It's happening! KF going to sell out, I'm told. Great buzz in the air. Find fellow FFers-they are all appropriately working in obscure yet interesting professions. Nice to have a group of people to talk to, share obsession with.

9PM: Mecca Normal are without question the worst pile of bilge (can bilge be piled?) ever. The horror. I will kill myself if I ever have to see them again. Some FFers claim to have seen them more than once. This is absurd on its face. \

11:00 The Fall.

Here is the thing--every song was fantastic, utterly powerful no fucking around rock-n-roll of the old school, band tighter than a duck's arse MES in great form audience hyped up and excited for every song and begging for yet a third encore. For about 30 seconds of Joke I wished for DATs and Julias and so on, but the band was rocking so fucking hard I just didn't care anymore. And they got harder--their were sublime all time moments in almost every song. Ex Classmates, Kick the Can, Jim's New Fall all were spectacular for ears that had never heard them.

I'm just saying that this version of the fall is brilliant live. Stunning.

12:45 PM--get home, NGF is asleep, watch TIVO of NY Rangers/Flyers. Rangers win 4-2, Lindros scores against his old team. Still stoned, still happy. Life, for once, is good.

Henry Babcock:

First opening band, one of those stupid, pointless, chaotic, very angry hard rock bands, was full of energy and a little bit amusing to watch, but complete shit none-the-less. Next, Mecca Normal, I found to be somewhat enjoyable, last song especially when the guitarist went off, drowning out the singer. But maybe I was just psyched because I was about to see The Fall for the first time.

I secure my place directly up frong against the stage, and my god after 25 minutes the guitar player, drummer and bassist all come out and start playing The Joke. I'm immediately impressed with just how 'rocking' it is, letting myself almost jump up and down in tune. Then low and behold, Mark E. Smith himself comes wandering out and finds the mic just in time to begin singing. And on and on, me never tiring of bobbing my head around with the bass. Played a good mix of new material, a couple of which I actually recognised from the CD played the night before, good stuff, and several from The Unutterable and a couple older. I particularily enjoyed F-oldin' Money, much more fun live than on the album, and the new band members did a fantastic job. Drummer and Bassist doing their jobs well, the guitarist seemed really into it, on the audience's side it seemed, lots of smiles as if laughing at MES as a senile old fart who doesn't know what he's doing. Smith's many guitar and bass amp fixes were quickly corrected by the band as soon as Smith turned away. And Smith's constant obsessive compulsive messing with the mic stands and cords was interesting. Also was glad to hear 2 librans, and then, 'YES!!', third encore, Damo Suzuki. Wow! The happy guitarist on the way out waving at the audience, shook my hand. Absolutely awesome entire show. No albums for sale though, unfortunately.


Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, Nov. 15, 2001


Joke (good voice volume, so an excellent "Violent food descends over you") / Touch Sen / 2 Librans / Insekt / & Therein (walk-off) / Bourgeois (walkoff the II) / Kick Can-F'oldin-Kick Can / Pharmacist / Way Round / Ex-Classmate's
Encores (mind betraying me on order of these): Crop Dust / New Fall / Ex-Classmate amalgam (huh? Misplaced lyrics?) (crowd noise) / Afro Man ("I live in LA" etc) / Dr Buck * / Damo Suzuki (screams for more) / Antidotes

* Featuring "essence of Tong" & "DJ Tong" lines about bone cancer, "the corridors of disembowelment"?; also one of the indispensable items is a copy of Catcher In The Rye, for reasons I didn't follow. Also I think Cole got his own personal diss (about which he was very pleased later): "[ramble] What does it mean? It means the sound is only right for the last five minutes-uh!"

Much adjusting/kicking over of mic stands, losing of lyrics etc. MES visibly drunk according to many. Not quite as sharp & riveting as last nite, but Way Round, Damo & the astounding free associations of Dr Buck were powerful.

Patrick expanded his review a little later....

Pre-gig: Synchronized arrival in parking structure of me, pal Mike, J & N Furner, DJ Eric & frend Jimmy. We proceed into the club as a mighty tide of Fallnet, but are soon scattered by the noise & disorganization of the foyer/bar region. Moment of panic as they have no record of my cred card ticket purchase; luckily the guy recogs me from previous show & issues me a new ticket (later I verified that I had been charged for 3 nites).

First opener, Midget Handjob: I think this is the band with Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, one-time Blackflag). Singer sounds like him but is unrecog'able to anyone due to long-haired hippy disguise. The whole thing has a communal feel, with a couple of 6-year-olds joining on percussion. Gtrs & two drummers (FallCon!). Also the guy who may be Keith puts on a bicycle helmet & takes drumsticks to his own head occasionally. Gets my vote, anyway! Overall I kind of like them: sort of a Savage Republic with forceful-if-incomprehensible lyrics.

Band II, Flash Express: Oh the horror! Bad glam-metal throwbacks. Supposedly they do some Stooges covers later, but I don't stick around. I would rather sit thru five Mecca Normal sets than one more from these guys. Singer with annoying Nugent/Plant vox. Only redeeming bit is that I discover my own previously untapped Robert Plant capabilities while imitating their lame anthemic refrain "Ride the Flash Express!" (& I don't think the Express is a deltic, either).

At some point we encounter hb, & me pal Mike makes the fatal mistake of engaging her in debate about Tarantino. We discover that ... hb's Verbal Argumentation Technique Is Unstoppable! Man! Do NOT cross her unless you intend to lose & want to be shown the inside of a ... thesaurus or something.

The Fall: Cole has covered it pretty much. A little slower getting on track I think. Otoh, even though I'm kind of sick of Mr Pharmacist I am irresistibly drawn to sing along with it, Ex-Classmate, & a few others, to the annoyance of my neighbors I'm sure. Most unnotable moment is when they do Crop Dust (I think?) for 1st encore, but Smith slides back into Ex-Classmate's, which they had just done. But then the rest of the encores rock way damn hard, for a total of 5 extra tunes, which is very generous indeed. Total running time about 90-95 min, same as on Wednesday.

Notes: I like the deep growl MES has added to & Therein. Touch Sens is rocking powerfully, but has lost the stadium-rock Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!'s almost completely.

Post-gig: MES is indisposed & not receiving visitors (except for Hannah's celebrity moment). We end up hanging with Jim, talking (real) football & various shit. Turns out we have memorized the tour sched & he has to look it up. Turns out that Jonathan & Natalie will be in Bay Area & will try to make SF show. Liz of KF Booking Manager fame comes over & we congratulate her efforts (She denies ever being a Fallnettist, but I have the Jul 2000 posts to prove she was.) Rumors of wwwkend acoustic gig (which do not pan out). KF staff evict us from the building.

Cole Coonce:

If Wednesday night was a rocket ride, Thursday night was a sine wave.

Peaks, valleys. etc....

In my opinion, Wednesday was your lead-off batter home run, Thursday was the clean up hitter swatting a stand up double...

The reports of MES drunk is an exaggeration. The two mid-set walk-offs by MES were a harbinger of potential disaster, but were actually rather civil...(the calm manner of the walk out may have disappointed some of the looky-loos expecting broken gear and pugilism...)

Factors in a more demure mood and performance: an inexplicable and unexplained lack of a dedicated monitor mix (nobody at the monitor mix console, as opposed to Wednesday) and a bass amp that lacked the cack and manliness of the night before...

Antidote, Damo Suzuki, Mr. Pharmacist, Way Round and Ex-Classmate's were most raucous and ear-boxing...

Kick the Can/F'oldin' Money somewhat flat and uninspired.

Cuz'n Roy on spoons, drip pan and washboard for the entire generous mittenful of encores...

Some folks (including half of the mighty Fall) thought tonight was better...guess that is what makes horse races, yeah?

But even if you agreed with that assessment, if you paid your money, I don't think you would feel cheated...tonight was not a failure, just different in tone and attack...

Slang King kindly sent the set list and a photo of MES caught in the act.

Frank Maurer:

Man O MAN.....Better than the wed. night.....The band more powerful and strong, REALLY tight and hard......Mark was in great form throughout, practically rocking out......And this was the third night in a row for him too....

Pretty much a reordered set from last night, without Cropdust (which was great the night before) or Jim's New Fall.....Mark called the band offstage after the 4th song, but they came back out after just a couple of minutes....

Crowd a bit larger I think (maybe 750), and seemingly more into it....Many return fans from Wed. night.....

The quasi homeless guy who came out during Wed. night's encore's to play a broiler pan!!! turned out to be last nights DJ.....He joined the band during the encore's again last night.

Four (well 3 1/2) encore's last night.....They finished the set w/xclassmates kid's, then came back out to do a reprise of it..2nd was Afro Man, which started out w/someone with the band (road manager?) singing the first part and Mark finishing it..They went right into Dr. Buck, wonderful.....3rd encore was Dammo Susuki and 4th encore was Antidotes, which was pulled from the main set...

Mark performed the whole show.....Dr. Buck was a real treat, as I didn't think he'd be doing it again....

AND THE Suprise Treat: the guy who sang the first part of Afro Man came out after the last encore to thank the crowd and say that the band would be back in April!!!! WHO KNEW!!!!

They must have enjoyed their stay in LA......

Henry Babcock:

Opening bands MUCH better than Wednesday. Midget Handjob inviting audience members up to take part in their jam. Nice. Flash Express real entertainment. Singer/guitarist very into his energetic rock/blues.

I make my way with Older Brother Michael to the front again, pick up broken glass from the floor and wait a full half hour this time for once again, The Mighty Fall to appear. I wonder if they'll play the same set as last night. Sure enough, open again with The Joke, but I'm just as into it as before. After three or four songs Smith motions the whole band off the stage, leaving me happily wondering if it's over or what. But back on a couple minutes later. The energy did seem to go down a bit after that first walk off, but it picked up again later on. They did play basically the same set as Wednesday, just different order of songs. And it seemed shorter overall.. Towards the end some drunk girl comes pushing her way to the front next to me, trying to push me to the side, interupting my picture taking. But I stand firm, my elbow out for her to push into. Amusing little interuption. She was very into the show in her own way, shouting incessantly for 'Pinball Machine' toward the end. Encored (or returned from a walk off, unclear) with Dr. Buck's Letter, then Damo Suzuki, and the drummer tosses his sticks into the audience same as previous night, and they're gone, leaving me thinking it's over, but cheering for more with all my might anyway. To my surprise, they return again for 'Antidotes', the guitarist handing me a full Heinekin on his way back on. I don't drink and never have but I take it and end up drinking the whole thing anyway (haha I've got a Fall beer bottle!). Guitarist a very nice guy obviously. On my way out, finishing my first beer ever (yuck...this is why I don't drink), some nice man walks by me and hands me a Fall set-list, seemingly from the first night. Nice! Who was that? Anyway, thanks!

Wish I'd known there were so many fellow FFaces there. Only recognise a few faces at both shows. I've got lots of digital camera pictures and that set list and the beer bottle. ..but I won't get the pics online for a while because my computer is in Montana right now.

Monday I'll be at the San Francisco show.


Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, Nov. 19, 2001

A couple of San Francisco pre-gig press thingies -- many thanks to Chris Mohr for these (Princeton area readers may remember Chris's annual Fall show on WPRB back in the 1980s - I think it was called Decline and Fall of the Fall or something like that...) (later Chris corrected me: "The show was actually called "The All-Fall Decline and Fall." It was an annual fill-in on the regularly scheduled "The Decline and Fall" hardcore show, named after the Penelope Spheeris movie of course..."

  • Found this on sfgate.com today in anticipation of Fall gig at Great American Music Hall tonight: http://sfgate.com/eguide/pictures/2001/11/13/thefall.jpg (Stefan's note: this is actually a photo I took at the Middle East, Cambridge, April 3 1998. Sfgate didn't ask for permission, but I don't mind.)
  • Above photo originally came from this snippet, with a link to a brief review.
  • There was a brief "Critics' Choice" listing in the SF Bay Guardian: http://www.sfbg.com/AandE/36/07/cc_music.html
  • There was a brief piece in the SF Weekly but it was kinda snotty and it said the band was "Manchurian" instead of "Mancunian." Hmmm... we'll leave that one out.

Richelle Small:

I arrived to show sold out--many were looking for scalpers but weren't connecting up. Located my girlfriend Suzane & took off for pints at Edinburgh Castle around the corner from the club to pass time of the open uppers.

Club--GAMH, sort of ornately decorated place with a good reputation for sound quality--seen many enjoyable shows there. We were back in time for last 4 songs from openers Errata (fem 4-pc. Erratating horn rock--good!) and then crowd-chatter over (solid throng of old fans--psyched-up/no SF Fall show since Fillmore in '94 & youngish college age, demure & stylish) 20 min. tape of kinda-rocka-country and then lights down...

Band took stage & then Smith soon after, in white tux & top hat (just kidding)--pretty dynamic entrance...bombastic opening number-- no idea what it was though (Piece of Shit? /PC Shit?/new?*)--SF audience really revere (fear?) Fall / accept whatever lineup, but this one rocked, stripped & lean--all knew so right out of the gates--not one doubted. Crowd treated to 90 min.-plus set and all left satisfied for sure.

* Had hoped to find tshirt booth for new cd after show--but no-one knew-nothing.

Band esp. guitarist had great spirit, energy.

first: Cyber Insekt / 2 Librans / MES chewing gum looking around stage, little things/constantly moving like an athelete, a brick-laying priest with a bad haircut/laying bricks in front of drums--back to audience/"We ARE the Fall" /And Therein/Touch Sensitive (huge response seemed to bolster band)/New Song (damn --no cd) /Bourguoise Town (seemed MES relished repeating "spread it around": San Francisco!)--some cute girl laid down at his feet and beckoned him --all she got was ignored, tossed.

medley: Drago's Guilt into F'oldin' Money (back) into Drago's then: Kick the Can (MES moving mic into bass drum --sound men moving mic back immediately).

Sons of Temperence (during which I was socked in the nose--and then apologised to!) My Ex-Classmate's Kids (lyric mutated into "my ex-schoolmate's kids", then ""my ex-girlfriend's kids", then "my ex-girlfriend's kill")

then: a spoken-word w/ spoon-man like in LA w/ eerie keyboard played by bassist and MES reading off a sheet randomly, like words in reverse (reminded me of a Grateful Dead-style meandering mid-set mind warp--some seemed perplexed) a guy noticed me picture-taking and wouldn't shut up--he was the one who punched me in the nose... another New Song... walk off/encore: Way Round (w/out keyboards it was sort of pointless, MES agknowledges this by pounding on keys with mic like a percussion instrument for over a minute--brilliant, but the song, so rudimentary & result made musicians foolish-sounding).

Last night, I went to see Fluffgirl show and one of the opening bands, Junkyard Sluts, played a cover of Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated"--but the singer's throat didn't work & guitar amp blown so it was just pretty much bass & drums alone--I never heard anything as monotonous, wearying-- Bob Madigan / Fluffgirl awesome though, as always--THEY should open for the Fall in next time (Fall bassist, at show's end, "Look for us in April")

MES placed mic on keys weighted with guitar pedal (like it'd amplify anything from keyboard), took off...then...

2nd encore: Damo Susuki & crowd went nuts again / drunk scary guy went on stage gave MES hugs (Mark cracked a half-sec smile) & then dove from stage (but not ejected) many drunks rejoiced...

Ray Gonne:

i can confirm that the opening song was the joke-uh: 5 YEARS IN A PC CAMP! (i know the fall's been opening with this, but it does seem esp prescient for the precious bay area).

word on the street must've blown over from another show (i'd heard rumblings from the joyless punters on the sf_indie list that the show "sucked wind"), because the fall were fucking great last night. crisp, articulate if not comprehensibly so vocals from mes, who played into his songs and elaborated lyrics, added rants, looked decidedly un-elderly, and prowled and commanded the stage. the band was thundering, blasting so hard and working the repeat riffs so masterfully that even when mes was offstage, it was still exciting. and when he'd come back, the dramatic effect was quite arresting. really, as much as i anticipated the show, i couldn't have imagined they'd be that good. it was one of the best shows i've seen this year, for sure (i'm on a bit of a tear right now, having gone to a show every night since friday; i liked dcfc sat., but sheesh). everyone i went with marveled, including the pink avenger, a tough customer, who offered unqualified superlatives after the show. the fall played a couple encores, including a ripping, strong-voiced "damo suzuki." altogether stupefying. did i say i loved it? i loved it. bloke walked up to me after the show (people were so worked up, they *spoke enthusiastically to strangers*) and said he'd seen them a few years back in england, and this show was much better, and that it was obvious mes wasn't boozing last night, so he was sharper than usual. seriously, the fall seemed to do everything, from pounding electronica to noise to garage rock to pure essense of indie to speaking in tongues. WHO'S YOUR DADDY? mark e smith is your daddy.

ps oh, one more thing. the pink avenger did offer that mes, while rocking the house, looked the part of the most bored human being ever. and i must reiterate that i thought he was cool as fuck on stage, right down to the hunched delivery, 80's era mes hair part, and mic grip. pps i should add that the evening was textured by periodic reps from jonathan: "i'm totally wired"


I've seen The Fall live a dozen times but not once in the last 10 years so I went to last nights's gig in San Francisco with no idea what to expect.

The lights dimmed and onto the stage wandered a classic 4 piece rock band - drums, bass, guitar and 'singer'. And then they started playing and I was astounded to find that the Fall have in fact become a rock band. But what a sound! I'm not used to the idea of Mark E Smith playing with band members who actually know their instruments. It's not that in the past they couldn't play - more that their idea of 'play' was orthogonal to everyone else's. But last night these guys could really *play* - with grungy guitar and solid driving bass they rocked the venue till you could feel the foundations shaking.

So of course they chose to play those songs that better fitted this mode. Tracks like 2 Librans, Sons of Temperance and golden oldies like Mr. Pharmacist. The bass on Way Round just went round and round and round...they could have played that all night and I'd have been happy. At the time it felt like they weren't going to stop and I knew I was getting value for my $20.

And then we had a spell of MES's spoken word. I'll just skip over that episode except to mention the big geezer who suddenly appeared playing what looked like a spoon and sheet of scrap metal. Well, each to their own I say.

Two things were missing as compared to the studio versions of these songs. One was keyboards - if you discount MES's random tinklings on the keys (you couldn't help noticing the knowing look exchanged between guitarist and bassist as MES bashed out his dischords). Some songs really suffered from this lack of a major instrument and it meant that this gig had a much more uniform sound than I'm used to from the Fall. And the other thing missing was humour. 2 Librans, Sons of Temperance and other songs had me smilng when I first listened to them. But at this performance the words were lost among the ever so slightly too serious instruments and their sound was subverted to fit with the rock style they kept up all evening.

The really pleasant surprise for me, however, was I Am Damo Suzuki. I never thought I'd hear that song live again. Wow! Pulsing drum rhythm, jarring guitar chords and MES on top form: "Ain't got no time for Western medicine, I am - Damo Suzuki". Towards the end the big guy with the scrap metal reappeared. He might have made sense in some experimental post-punk band but in a 4 piece rock band he seemed out of place. Ah...but that's the point...the Fall *are* an experimental band and this rock band thing...well...it's just another experiment. Or at least one hopes...


There's nothing more pathetic than standing outside a concert hall with the main act ripping into song two of the set--but that's exactly where my buddy Vic and I found ourselves last night. Somebody, I forget who, said I'd get into the show somehow--and I thought that somehow was Crazytoots' offer of two tickets. The plan was for us to rendezvous at the Edinburgh Castle (or Castle Edinburgh), but being the proverbially late fuck that I am, I missed the hand-off by about an hour and ten minutes. But alas, I did get into the show. The bouncer must've recognized a true Fall fan amidst all the swank hipsters (the same faces I saw at the Pavement concert two years ago--no doubt there because of the critics choice write-up in the Guardian)--because, after watching us listen to the opening number then Cyber Insekt from the sidewalk, he let us into the show without tickets. The show itself was a triumph--all the songs were loud and rocking. I never associated the Fall as much with rockin' out as music-gone-awry--but that's pretty much the way the songs were done...I can't iterate the set-list, esp. since I don't have the new album yet, but here were the highlights: Two Librans, Bourgoise Town, Touch Sensitive, Sons of Temperance, F*olden' Money et. al., Jim's The Fall, some pounded tom-tom beat tune with queasy riff I'm guessing is Crop Dust, extended rant done over spacey keyboard patter and light backing...the encores included Way Round and I am Damo Suzuki, during which people surrounding me stood motionlessly in bafflement...though last night's Fall put on a good show, the '94 Fall gig I saw at Slims in SF was more impressive: the sound was denser and more chaotic at that show. There was something missing last night....Anyway, after getting drunker, we roved SF lamenting the advent of the dotcommers and what-have-you's who've changed the city since my youth. Conclusion: I was mad and laughed at the same time.

Mark Healy:

Wow. Great night for all.

Me and my lovely bride got to the Edinburgh Castle on Geary at about 8:00. Found Eliot VB and his buddy and settled in for much beer drinking and looking for Arabesque Nicoli. Ate yummy greasy food too. Met some fellow fallnetters and some fun friends of Eliot's (they could be stand-ins for most of my own friends come to think of it, or at least play them in a sitcom).

9:30 or so, and a team of crack mercenaries are helping me identify Nicoli but to no avail. However, met like 15 guys who still needed tickets. Wow, should've played the Fillmore, or at least a 2nd night...

Sold the tickets quickly and got in to see Erase Errata, who I quite liked and who were probably the most Fall-ish band I've ever seen open for them. All women, herky jerky drone, good stuff...I can't really describe it because my brain is mush from Caffrey's, Jack Daniels and whatever else.

Then we wait for the mighty Fall. Great spirit in the crowd, with everyone drunk and waiting for the event of year. Many had not ever seen the Fall, and you really could feel the excitement.

On they come: Veronica, Greg, Jimmy, and Susan. Actually Ben, Spencer, Jim and Mark, who entered to the first crack of The Joke. Loud, tight, hard-rock approach you've been hearing about for the past month. Definitely a departure from the quirky wierdness, but a positive alternative. I mean, think how awful it *could* be...All the guys sounded great. Jim plays a mean fuckin' bass.

MES was great. Lots of singing, really into it, subversive vocal gurgles, yelps, breaths, everything. I'd never seen him so motivated on stage. Something has obviously clicked with him. He wants to put on a good r`n'r show again, or can at least pretend for an hour or so. Good microphone switching, cords tied up, minor knob twiddling. Great random keyboard bashing, especially during Way Round.

Set, I think: Joke / Cyber / Two Librans / And Therein / Kick the Can / Foldin Money (longgggg) / Mr. Pharmacist / Bourgious Town (long too) / Crop Dust / Sons of Temperence / Touch Sensitive / Ex-Classmates Kids (longgggg, with spoken word in middle) / Ey Bastardo / Way Round / Damo Suzuki

Should be complete, but the order of the main set may be fucked up in the last half. Talked to Ben briefly afterward - he said they'd be back in April. We can only hope.

Etan Gery:

Agreed, it truly was fantastic. The hype coming from those LA reviews was not exagerrated. What I have to add to what's been said:

- Just approaching the venue was surreal, seeing "The Fall" on the marquee. Understand that I had resigned myself at many points to never being able to see them. The first minute or so of The Joke left me a bit overwhelmed as well. I mean, The Fall (featuring Mark E Smith) were actually playing five feet in front of me

- Highlights for me were Ey Bastardo (still can't get it out of my head....best "minimalist" Fall song since Fireworks), Damo, Joke, though it was all great. The two or so medleys they threw in were neat as well

- New stuff is terrific, don't know why it's been slagged so much round these parts. Reminds me much of Bend Sinister (note that I love BS), very loud and "rockin"

- Is moshing par for the course at Fall gigs? I thought people stopped doing that crap when they reached 16 (or when they left their frat)

- Sorry I didn't meet up with any fellow Fallnetters. Didn't know who to look for at the Edinburgh, and am still too cowardly to approach random strangers

All in all a terrific night--definitely worth the trip to SF. Those thinking of traveling to NY: Go!

Eliot Van Buskirk:

these two girls who put together a site with reviews of pretty much every decent show to hit san francisco tapped me for the fall review:


just scroll down on the left to The Fall, bolded for being new.

if you wanna avoid the frames go straight to:


but then you miss all the other cool reviews.


Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, Washington, Nov. 20, 2001

Many thanks to Nick Hough for the set list.

Bill Pearse:

Got to the Crocodile early hoping to check out / connect with other Fall fans. Thought I spotted a couple at the bar who looked like candidates but they wound up being band members. Can't recognize any of them of course because the last lineup and last show I saw was on that string of bad ones on the east coast, 1998.

Two guys in the table next to us procured Fall posters from off the wall. One was from Philly, the other from LA - both into the Fall since early 80s and never saw them. All of us very excited. One of them is hoping they'll play "ROD" and I have to explain to him why they probably won't. "Where do you hear about this shit?" On the internet.

Opening act "The Charming Snakes" had a nice, grating guitar going - the singer works at a neighborhood record store called Sonic Boom.

Second opening act, "Kinski" held no surprises. Lots of aimless tension built up and no pay-off. Reminded me of Mogwai, but then again, not really...

Fall didn't come on until 11:45 p.m. All of the sudden I realize the guys at the bar are the band, and only three of them. The bass player with the pony tail did not look the part but sure as hell did his job. Wow! Thundering bass and energy with The Joke. Smith comes on stage looking older than he did in 1998. Never has been good sound in the Crocodile but down front, just superb, sloppy, grating loud mix.

Tracks I can name include The Joke / Two Librans / And Therein / Touch Sensitive / Kick the Can -> F-Oldin' / Mr Pharmacist and then just about the rest must be from the last two releases. ~14 in total. Track 6, whatever it was, was unreal, odd, lots of "spoken word" and weird, fantastic vibe in the audience. All of us exchanging wide eyes, nods, and glazed smiles. Lots of "kids" in the front with a quasi pit going on - this is unusual to see in Seattle and I always welcome it. It's hard to get people out here to stop playing with their hair and pay attention to the music - or respond to it.

Caught one nice frame of Smith at the end of "Pharmacist" with a bona fide, self-satisfied smile - imagined he was full-on pleased with the show. No walk-offs (only one "back in five minutes," due to equipment) and no mic chord mishaps. Two encores - and the crowd very much ready to soak in more - ending with "Damo." In typical fashion, Smith hands the mic down to someone in the front then disappears off-stage. Unclear whose vocals it was at the end but someone got going with something about a motorcycle, and it sounded perfect. Show ends with a jumble of drums and chaos and the crowd is hoarse, pretty much dazed, dispersing.

Really wish they'd play here more. This Knight Has Opened My Eyes.

Jack DeGuiseppi:

Seattle show was great! Talked to a guy who was also at the SF show - said that one was a little more arty - this one drivin' r'n'r.

Hard to write something new about the show after reading all the LA and SF reviews. The Crocodile was crowded and I was surprised by the mini mosh pit that developed in front of us.

After the 98 debacle I never thought I would say that I saw a great Fall show. But I'm saying it now. Not just me - hearing the same from others that were in attendance. Met John C from Sequim, WA -- sometime lurker on Fallnet. Bee. Chris from Tacoma. Met John's friend Don who is from Seattle and had gone down to SF the night before for the show.

After the performance talked to someone who was comparing his performance w/93, 94, and 89. You know, being a longtime member of the Worldwide Fallnet 250 (give or take 50) made me think that the Fall had very limited appeal and that there wasn't really a market anymore for MES. This show made me think twice. Ages were evenly dispersed. People do like his music. People would BUY his music if there ever was a distribution setup that would get it to the people. Too bad Matador won't work w/him anymore. C'mon, you do a 8 date US tour and you have NO PRODUCT TO SELL??? Something is wrong w/this picture.

MES had that charisma working -- hard not to focus on him the entire time. Band tight throughout.

Good night.

Here are some pictures:



Knitting Factory, New York City
Friday, Nov. 23 - Sunday, Nov. 25, 2001 (some reviews cover more than one gig)

Photos: Friday
Michael Harkavy

Resa Blatman
Photos: Saturday
Stefan Cooke
Maurice Narcis
Trent D.
Brian Summers
Photos: Sunday
Renzo Pecoraro
Alexi Dechevoi

from the November 23 New York Times:

THE FALL, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, TriBeCa, (212) 219-3006. Mark E. Smith has been through dozens of band members since he started the Fall in 1976; the sole constant is the cantankerous, sing-song, surprisingly cogent rants that he sings, slurs and grunts above the band's out-of-kilter riffing. He is touring the United States for the first time since 1998 with, of course, another new backup band. Tonight at 8; tomorrow night and Sunday night at 9; tickets are $18 in advance, $20 the day of the show (Pareles).

from the November 26 New Yorker:

74 Leonard St., between Broadway and Church St. (219-3055)^×Nov. 23-25: One of the longest-surviving and most prolific bands born of the late-seventies British punk-rock scene, the Fall rejected the more cartoonish, sartorial aspects of the movement, but it embraced the fury and adventurous nature at its heart. At the helm through countless shifts of personnel and stylistic flirtations, the lead vocalist and chief whip cracker Mark E. Smith has put the defining stamp on his band's experimental clamor with his gruffly sung-spoken delivery and brazen perspective.

from the Nov. 28 - Dec. 4 Village Voice:

"His-Uh Way-Uh," by E. McMurtrie

Fans could be excused for hesitating before paying recession dollars to see the Fall during Thanksgiving weekend's three-night stand at the Knitting Factory. Stories abound of indifferent gigs hamstrung by clotted electronics, inaudible vocals, equipment sabotage, and walk-offs. Their last stateside trek ended with a notorious April 1998 onstage meltdown at Brownies, the departure of several members, and Mark E. Smith's oft reported brush with New York's Finest.

However, there was hope for the faithful or curious. Overseas, word was that a recently remarried Mark E. was Fit and Working Again, by his standards, with a newly press-ganged, stripped-down band and a fresh, self-released disc, Are You Are Missing Winner. On Saturday and Sunday nights, the "new" Fall's guitar-bass-drums backing trio climbed onstage and established the weekend's blaring vamp-rock template with relative oldie "The Joke"; on walked the heavy-lidded, terminally poker-faced Smith to yawp "Uh right on, uh right on-uh."

Thereafter Mark & Co. followed a steady script—the nights had almost identical set lists—drawing on 2000's cleanly produced The Unutterable (from a since-sacked lineup), the bleary Missing Winner, and some miscellany; the proceedings were endearingly characterized by, yes, incomprehensible vocals. Consonant-free tunes like the new, ominously titled "Crop-Dust," with its Eastern-tinged, sinuous guitar lead and one discernible phrase, "stumble through the smoke," led into vehement, enunciated takes on the 1986 hit "Mr. Pharmacist," sparking pogo-dancers and, on Sunday, an audience altercation. The fracas distracted some folks from a winning cover of Tommy Blake's rockabilly "F-Oldin' Money"—the title refrain sung with a mock-Elvis inflection. A laconic "Dr. Buck's Letter" alluded to the mental counseling of a Mark E. alter ego, with an ad-lib about toting "a Tolkien or . . . Catcher in the Rye." The growling "Two Librans," with protagonists who "sat on a hill," might have been referencing Yeats's "Lapis Lazuli"—if you ignored words sounding like "Chechnya," "Timor," and "Oprah."

The avant angularity of the 1977-1983 Fall and the keyboards of their boppy mid-'80s singles were MIA; but the muscular, two-or-three-chord building-block rock provided the driving beat that's always complemented Smith's slurred delivery. The simplicity let onlookers concentrate on parsing his inscrutable, squinting presence and impenetrable declamations. In all-black, pirate-belted duds, Smith was an elfin Johnny Cash; from other angles, he had an ancient infant's physiognomy or, perversely, a drunken William F. Buckley Jr.'s. He occasionally tried singing without his mic (à la Darby Crash). Both nights he turned his back after the "Way Round" refrain, "I can't find my-uh way-uh"—only to lurch around, jab his finger at the audience like a Mancunian Archie Bunker, and hilariously renew the complaint. A deadpan mumble-word interlude asked, "Mo-dern-in-ity, what is it? Where does it come from?" before predicting the revival of jousting and equating Blackpool with ancient Rome. Who knew? Saturday he slipped in a riff about uniformed men on Canal Street. Amid slightly canned sets, such weird glints were a cracked vulture's-eye view—trademarks of a career spent pecking at modernity.

Michael Pinto (Friday):

It's very strange, here I sit at home and the show is over and it's 11:33pm! Most of the shows I've been to are getting started at 11:30pm.

I managed to find Stefan and his wife before the show, they are both very nice people! Stefan reports: - There was no merchandise because it wasn't shipped over. - Their instruments didn't get over either so they had to borrow what they had.

The opening act was quite bad, but they tried very hard. It sort of reminded me of some high school kids trying to be Pearl Jam. But you will want to sit through the opening act as the audience doesn't give way that much inbetween acts. It was a nice place to catch a show you could sit OR stand! I can't give a set listing because: - I don't have the current CD. - It was a bit hard to tell what they were playing without the keyboard.

They did play Touch Sensitive, Mr Pharmacist, F'oldin' Money, I Wake Up in a City and some sort of spoken word poem/rant too! The band were very tight, but I wish there were keys (they had a lead guitar, bass and drums). But it did sound good, it gave the band a more punk edge than new wave - they did have a good range with just chords and drums. Except for once or twice Smith wasn't drowned out by the guitars (and he didn't play too much with the speakers).

Silly Show Highlights: - Audience member yells a request for "Hit the North". - The guy at the front who had this own drum sticks. - Around the end it looked like Mark handed the microphone to some lady in the front who keept singing after he walked off stage.

Audience Demographics: - Folks in from all all over the place, met a couple who came in from Chicago. - Wide age range, everything from young 20 somethings to folks with gray hair. - Wide range of dress styles from punk leather jacket to geeky nerdy shirts. - It was nice to see quite a few women at the show!

Joe Kard2000 (Friday):

Had mixed feelings about buying tickets for all three shows in nyc...esp after what happened in 98 plus not being to excited by the new lp...however this turns out to be one of the best fall shows i've ever been to...the band were real tight...not to much know twidling by MES...he seemed to be more into the performance this time than the many times of seen the Fall...

setlist was similar to the ones that have been mentioned before...something like: The Joke / Cyber Insekt / Two Librans / And Therein / Touch Sensitive / Crop Dust / Kick The Can/F-Olding Money / Mr Pharmacist / Buegois Town / Enigmattic Dream/Spoken Word Poem thing/ Ex-Clasmates Kids / Last Song of the set was something i didnt recognize

Encore: Way Round / Damo Suzuki I was standing behind a few people behind the guy who brought his own drumsticks and was wondering what propelled him to do so....maybe he was hoping MES would sack the drummer so he could join...plus this guy was fiddling around with the mike stands as well..

And I was standing near the buy who kept screaming for hit the north....this guy was really drunk and was twirling around dancing banging into people whether they liked it or not

Plus there was this couple to the far right of the stage who decided this was the place for an intense makeout show.

Does anyone know what the last song of the reg set was? [yes - it was I Wake Up in the City - Stefan]

Bill McDermott (Friday):

I'll be a Fall Fan until I die, but you wouldn't know it from the last dozen years or so. I saw Mark E. and company in 1981, 1983, 1986 and 1988 but not again until Friday night at the Knitting Factory. And after collecting the first dozen or so Fall albums (and a bunch of the early 45s), I've only picked up "Frenz Experiment" and "Infotainment Scan" in the last 13 years or so. No excuses.

So while I jumped on tickets as soon as possible, I had no idea what to expect. Except for the fact that I would know nothing in the setlist. But it didn't matter at all - it was the Fall after all. My nephew Patrick and I arrived early and ran into the guy from DC who is associated with the Fall Net. Never got his name but we enjoyed talking with him and getting caught up a bit. I looked for Stefan based on his photo and description but had no luck. The opening band was a very loud bunch of Zeppelinesque Pearl Jam wannabes that prompted me to cram paper in my ears in order to save it all for the Fall. We drank Boddingtons - a wonderful Mancunian ale that seemed perfect for the occasion.

And what a show it was. I was not expecting this stripped-down, hard-rocking unit that is the Fall 2001. They rocked, they rolled and they thrilled. Remembering past shows where Mark spent most of his time with his back to the audience or crouched at the base of the mic stand, it was refreshing to see this "in-your-face" Mark E. Smith. It was also quite amusing to watch him fiddling with the guitarists' amplifier settings and seeing the guitarists bemused reaction. We were blown away and vowed to come back for more. My wife Leyla was feeling under the weather and couldn't make it or she would've been right there with the guy yelling for "Hit The North" (her favorite).

After the show, we approached the stage hoping for the setlist but they were gone. As the band was doing their own "roadie" work, I spoke with the guitar player (name?) and gave him my Fall history. He seemed amazed that I had seen them in '81 (he was probably born around that time!). He said they had been playing with Mark since February and (owing to my ignorance of the past 15 yrs. worth of Fall releases) said the last 3 Fall albums were really good. I asked to get on the guest list for Saturday night and he took mine and my nephews' names and said he'd try. I then spotted Mark standing by the side of the stage and quickly approached him. I said hello and congratulated him on a great set and he said thanks, smiled and shook my hand. My nephew had a disposable camera and was pissed that he didn't meet Mark, so we hopped the stage and stole up the stairs to ambush the Fall. We got there and Patrick asked if he could have his picture taken w/Mark. Mark grinned and kept pulling the black curtain in front of his face. He finally acquiesced and I snapped away. Then I had my picture taken with the Man himself and he was absolutely friendly and accommodating. After the picture, he asked if we were coming back Saturday night. I pointed at the guitar player and said, "If he gets us on the list, we're coming back!"

Mark looked over at him and said, "Oh yeah. He'll take care of you." Then he turned back to us, smiled and said, "Now go fuck off!" We laughed and beat it outta there. Being dismissed in such a wonderfully outrageous way was just the icing on the cake. I spent the rest of the night offering my hand to strangers so they could shake the hand of the man who shook the hand of Mark E. Smith.

I called the Knitting Factory 4 times the next day and didn't find out until nearly 8:00 p.m. that indeed my nephew and I were on the Fall's guest list. You can only imagine the disappointment when circumstances prevented us from making a return trip to the city that night. We spent Sunday looking at the photos we took and kicking ourselves for missing a golden opportunity.

I am now on a mission to fill in my missing Fall catalogue and get caught up. I figure there's enough there to keep me busy for a good long time. I saw U2 a few months back and heard them talk about earning the job of "world's greatest rock band" again. Sorry Bono - you guys put on a great show but it's far from rock n' roll. The Fall are rock n' roll. And I'm not Frightened.

Jon Varner (Friday & Saturday):

Others have covered the NYC shows well. Here's my few thoughts.

Biggest disappointment: I didn't get to meet any FFs. This is mostly my fault, since I forgot to pack my promised skinny ties. I told the yyprg it was hopeless, since every male attendee could have been one of you: guys ranging from 25-45, a few older, wearing black mostly, short hair, lots of spectacles, explaining recent changes in the Fall to bemused companions. There were more women in attendance than I expected, too.

The yyprg came down with a bad cold, possibly the flu on Friday night, so she was unable to attend on Saturday. Luckily, a quasi-FF friend in town decided to use the now-available free ticket. He owns a few early ones (Grotesque, Dragnet) and really dislikes the Matador stuff. He loved the new band, as did the yyprg.

And well they should! I think Saturday was tighter than Friday, but Friday had a slightly better set list. The band was storming - they particularly excelled on "Sons of Temperance" and "Way Round." The backing for "Enigrammatic Dream" made it less spoken wordy without getting in the way of understanding the words. The "cretin" ad lib was a great moment.

Of the new songs, I loved "I Wake Up In The City," liked "Crop Dust" a lot, thought "Kick The Can" was just kinda unmemorable, and I remember another one that musically sounded a lot like "Wake Up..." but I can't remember the lyrics.

The yyprg adds: "I am impressed by the band of normal English guys. Mark is even uglier in person; I was distraught by his constant fiddling with his dentures. I thought it was nice that he let the audience finish singing 'I Am Damo Suzuki.'"

That's about it. The main impression was that the band is a powerful rock'n'roll power trio, which is a first the Fall, I think. Mark was weird and all, but sang like his heart was in it. Lots of vocalising too.

Howard Merritt (Friday):

I've been a Fall fan ever since 1988, when I caught the video for "Victoria" on MTV, of all places (probably the first and only time the station ever showed it - lucky me), and immediately got hooked. However, I've somehow managed to miss every single U.S. tour since that time - 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998. Each time I've been at least 3,000 miles from the nearest show. So this time, even with a totally new band, I wasn't about to miss seeing Mark E. Smith; from the way he appears, he could kick off tomorrow, leaving me to forever chastise myself for not making the effort to get to a concert during his lifetime.

As a venue, the Knitting Factory was a perfect place for seeing The Fall for the first time. Most of the crowd were obviously rabid fans like myself, but cool and reserved about it (with a couple of exceptions mentioned below), like professional poker players observing a tournament. I expected to see a few older folks, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of 35+-year-olds and gray hair in the audience, about 40% of the crowd. There were quite a few women present as well, although it appeared I was the only black guy in the place (The Fall obviously aren't too popular with the brothers . . .).

As for the show: Well, to start with, the opening band, the Rye Coalition, was pure unmitigated garbage. This gang of knuckleheads played the kind of "Nu Joisy" atonal drum-thumping thrash-metal "rawk 'n' rowl" that everyone except for male college freshmen and Spin Magazine has long ago dismissed as musical crap. They presented nothing fresh or original, except for the last song, which began with a guitar-bass interplay which was actually almost mesmerizing. That is, until the lead singer, Ralph Cuseglio, ruined it all by opening his piehole to caterwaul more inane lyrics. The nadir of their set also occurred during their final song, when Cuseglio decided to illustrate a point in his lyrics by dropping his pants and slapping his bare ass at the audience. Suffering through their "music" was bad in itself, but having the image of that idiot's pale pot belly and floppy thimble dick burned into my retinas was definitely the final straw. The only way I got through all of that was to consider this presentation as the price I would have to pay, the "hairshirt", if you will, for delaying in seeing The Fall for so long. After the Rye Coalition left the stage, I turned to a frat-boy type next to me and said, "Well, that's something I really didn't need to see tonight." His response was, "What, pure kick-ass ROCK 'N' ROLL?!?" I think I made my point stated above.

When I arrived at the KF, the doorman said he didn't expect the Fall to come on stage any earlier than 10:00 pm, but he was wrong. The band appeared no later than 9:30. I wish I could have seen the great Fall lineups of Hanley, Burns, et al. play live, but that is no knock on the current band members. To a man, they were tight, and from the first guitar note and initial snap of the snare, they totally blew away the opening band. Mark came out after a couple of minutes of an instrumental "Joke", and the crowd went wild. My first impression was, "Damn, Smith has been doing all right for himself." By that, I mean it wasn't like he came out dressed in rags. Looked as though Mark had hit Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic during the afternoon. I thought I felt the crowd surge forward, and I quickly let a small woman stand in front of me to keep her from getting pummelled. But after a song or two, I noticed that the only surge was coming from directly behind me, in the person of some 6'4" bootboy who looked like Buster Bloodvessel's bastard child. I tried to ignore him and enjoy the show, but this idiot was jumping into me and hollering on every song as though he was at an Anthrax concert. Finally, around the time the band launched into "Touch Sensitive", Buster Jr. and a couple of his cronies (including a guy who felt the need to carry a set of drumsticks, as though the band was going to invite him up on stage to sit in for a set) rushed the stage, bowling people over in their wake. At least with them up front, I could now fully enjoy the show. Idiots.

And in a word, the show was superb. I think that many in the audience expected to see a drunken, slurring, abusive Mark E. Smith on stage, beating up his band and walking off at least three or four times. But Smith and Co. were all business, and put on a professional and outstanding performance. True, MES switched mikes several times, and fiddled with the mike stand so much even I began to feel jittery and nervous. And he screwed with the band's amps a couple of times. But I almost felt as those these displays were part of the entire act, as if Mark knew the crowd expected to see some of his eccentricities on stage and he delivered. Songs that stand out (I meant to write down the set list, but forgot) include "Cyber Insekt", "F-'olding Money", "Two Librans", and "Mr. Pharmicist" - the last of which it seemed the entire audience was singing along to, which was cool. The encore included two songs: "Way Round" and "I Am Damo Suzuki". For the latter, Mark was in such a good mood that, near the end of the song, he poked the mike into the face of this young guy, for him to sing along. This kid, who looked like Harry Potter after ten years and a nicotine habit, stared at the mike like he didn't know what to do with it. Mark then moved over and handed it to me. So, while he walked off for the final time, I got to sing a few bars of "Damo Suzuki" before passing it on to some nearby girls. A perfect ending to a great show.

I'm still waiting for Key Mail Order to deliver my new Fall album, ordered in late October (they claim they're having distributor problems . . . right). In the meantime, I saw two copies at a suburban Newbury Comics the other day, so I'm kicking myself at not being able to cancel my order, which was supposedly shipped last week. I may just break down and go out to buy it - no harm in having two of the same Fall album, to add to my collection of 40+ albums/EPs...

Stefan Cooke (Friday and Saturday -- feel free to skim through my rambling):


4 p.m. arrive Deer Park, Long Island, home of Harlan (Resa's brother). Traffic down from Boston wasn't too bad - but we must've passed five or six accidents en route. Proceed to eat and drink until bedtime.


9 a.m. Slept pretty well, about six hours, the ONLY night I get more than 2-3 hours sleep until Sunday night, back home.... The three of us spend the day cooking turkey etc. and drinking cheap red wine and watching crap cable t.v.


11 a.m. Wide awake and wired since 2:30 a.m. Hit the road to Queens to visit Resa's Aunt Muriel - I navigate for Harlan but am too tired to pay attention to exit signs and we get lost somewhere on the Long Island Expressway - eventually find Aunt Muriel who loves to talk.

2:30 p.m. Finally extricate ourselves from Aunt Muriel and head into the City over the Williamsburg bridge. Arrive at the Pioneer Hotel in/adjacent to Chinatown around 3:30. The room is big enough for a double bed, a 12-inch tv and a Picasso print. Try to catch 20 winks - no success.

4:30 p.m. Sleepwalk through Chinatown heading in the vague direction of the Knitting Factory. Too tired to think about food. Throngs of street vendors and cops galore the closer we get to Ground Zero (about a 20 minute walk south from the Knitting Factory).

5:00 p.m. Arrive at club - we're there early to make sure we're on the guest list. The box office hasn't gotten the Fall's list yet, but we're told they're in the bar. And so they are - well, at least Mark and Ed. Mark buys us beers (he's drinking Jameson's and Corona) and we talk about the web site for a while. I can barely understand what he's saying through sleep deprivation, alcohol, and generally slurriness. He's heard the Reykjavik CD and likes it - a relief.

6 p.m. Rest of band arrive - MES shuffles off to another part of the bar and I talk to Jim - what a sweet guy. I give him a CDR set of all the recordings I have (six) of the New Fall, I hope he likes them.

7 p.m. As the evening and beers go down things get more and more hectic. People come up to me every few minutes to thank me for the web site and talk about the Fall etc. I'm not used to being paid any attention to normally so it's a bit overwhelming, but the beer helps. EVERYONE I meet during the evening is truly warm and friendly. Meanwhile the band leaves to get something to eat. Michael Pinto introduces himself and Todd from The In-Out materializes. Sadly though other Fallnetters / ex-Fallnetters are not apparent.

It turns out that the Knitting Factory screwed up and hadn't booked a hotel for the band, so they have nowhere to stay. Ed is on the phone in the office trying to find something reasonable without luck. When Resa hears about the dilemma she suggests our hotel - the Pioneer - and the price ($89/double) is right, so she takes Ed back to the hotel to secure rooms. Ed tells me that the band thinks they're going on at 11 instead of 9, and they haven't soundchecked. He doesn't know where they've gone to eat, and he has to go to the hotel to pay for the rooms. I watch the luggage (piled in a corner) and tell the band the news when they get back. It's all par for the course apparently.

8 p.m. Doors open - the opening band are extremely loud and horrible - sort of a hardcore Pearl Jam. They're from Jersey City - the Rye Conspiracy or something.

9:20? p.m. The Fall. The set starts off a little slow - they're using unfamiliar equipment and Mark can't decide which of the three microphones he likes best - but they explode during Mr. Pharmacist 5-6 songs into the set. From then on they're a juggernaut. I haven't had a chance to listen to the tape yet, so I'll leave a review for later. The hulking bald guy at the front of the stage (with his own drumsticks) flails. Mark does a fair amount of knob twiddling and ties himself up with mic leads a couple of times. They play about 70 minutes, ending with a terrific Damo with audience participation at the end.

11 p.m. Resa and I walk back to the hotel. I'm tired, drenched, and very happy.

11:30 p.m. Resa wants to leave a note at the desk for Ed to see if he wants to visit the wreckage with us the next day since he said he was planning to. While she's in the lobby Mark walks in alone. Between the non-English-speaking desk manager and Mark's general incomprehensibility, confusion about where the room is and has it been paid for reigns, but Resa takes charge, finding the room number (it's under Blaney) and escorting Mark upstairs (the hotel is a bit of a rabbit warren with narrow dark hallways with a strange psychedelic paintjob - it's hard to find your way round). She asks Mark if he wants to go out for a drink with us but sadly no.


9 a.m. Dozed fitfully once or twice but was wide awake most of the night. Resa gets me a huge cup of coffee and we head south down Broadway to Ground Zero. It's warm and misty - forecast of steady rain doesn't transpire though.

The wreckage is truly breathtaking in its horror. Throngs of tourists shuffle with us in a 4 hour circuitous tour of where the towers used to be. The skeleton structure and massive pile of debris appear at random points from behind security fences. Cops are everywhere. In the Battery Park area there's a huge memorial to the victims as well as one for the NYPD and NYFD - as we look at the photos and mementos a group of fifty or so of the victims' families join us - you can tell who they are because they're wearing hardhats (they've just been inside the gates to see the destruction for real) and they're clutching teddy bears. Many of them leave the bears among the hundreds already left from previous family visits. It's all terrible, unfathomable, depleting, exhausting.

One security fence is only about 300 yards away from the where the towers were but it's too high to see over. But there's a mass of people waiting to climb up on a plank of wood wedged into the chainlink fence to get a good look; the most surreal queue I've ever been in. The fires down below are burning 10 weeks after the attack; the sickly sweet smell is still in the air. EPA monitors attached and beeping on lamp-posts. We head back to the hotel through Soho and Little Italy.

6 p.m. Arrive at lobby to find Mark and Ed standing about. I try to talk to Mark but he's clearly not in the mood for socializing so I give up. I'm not even sure if he remembers us from the day before. Try to take a nap but again, no luck.

7 p.m. Harlan picks up Resa to take her to a family reunion in New Jersey; I head back to the Knitting Factory. The bar is a sauna and the drinks are more expensive then yesterday. Fortunately Justin Kollar and his girlfriend Lauren rescue me from the street level bar and we head one flight down to the Tap Room, where they have fresh Brooklyn Lager on tap. Out of the blue there's a T-shirt stand next to the bar - did the band FedEx the shirts in from the UK? Still no CDs. We meet Michael Pinto again, but very annoyingly we don't meet any other Fallnetters, although I know Jon Varner and David Plunkett and others are here somewhere. Next time we'll have a better plan, I hope.

9 p.m. Doors open, I miss the support band due to hanging out in the bars talking to web site visitors, and when I enter the live area the room is packed. However I manage to squeeze my way close to the front where Michael and Justin are just as the support are leaving. I meet a couple from Reading who've flown in for the shows, very dedicated.

I think the Fall come on at about 11. An even more blinding set than Friday night. I'd heard Mark had been hitting the bottle a bit so I wasn't sure how he would be, but he was in great form, as were the band, who had better equipment this night according to Ben. Again I'll have to listen to my tape to do a proper review. After about 35 minutes Mark calls a short walkoff for no apparent reason. Ed sings at the beginning of Dr. Buck's letter. There are many encores - more than any other Fall gig I've seen (10) - each one heralded by Ed who comes onstage to get the audience shouting for more. I score front row center for the last few songs - literally two feet from Mark's shoes. The front row to my right is a seething throng of young women (plus Mitsos) worshipping at the altar of MES - something I still don't quite understand. What a great show - so much better than the 1998 tour. They play about 90 minutes - the longest Fall gig I've seen.


12:30 a.m. Michael and I have a final beer in the street level bar, comparing notes with some other people. One guy had recorded a song in Quicktime on his digital camera (Dr. Buck?) - I hope he remembers to send me the link. Which reminds me - there's a guy (Robert?) who's been following the tour, staying with the band, and videoing each night. Michael and I walk up Broadway and I turn right on Broome Street heading for the hotel, again exhausted, drenched, and very happy.

9:30 a.m. Maybe, maybe 2 hours sleep total. My body is falling apart. Hook up with Justin and Lauren for the train ride back to our car in Deer Park, then hit the north up 95, getting back to Boston at 6:30 or so. Tried to sleep in the car - hah!

9 p.m. Crash. Slept like a log for 10 hours.

Very sorry I couldn't stay for Sunday's gig. Roll on April, if the tour goes ahead.

Mitsos (Saturday):

What a show!!!! 3 encores! Just perfect!

The set was very similar to last night. The poem type ranting was the sama as last night. I only caught: "Modernity, moderneity, what does it mean?"

The band was excellent and they seemed to really enjoy the show.

Funny incident: halfway through the show MES walked offstage for some reason, but probably not to end the show. I guess the other 3 band members did not know what to do, they too, when they ended the song left the stage, so it seemed like the show ended at 40 minutes. Then they came back... You could totally see that they were clueless as to what they were supposed to do when MES wasn't around...

During the second encore the promoter(?) walked on stage and started singing for a few seconds (MES was not holding a mic at that point...). He (promoter guy) was the one who encouraged the crowd to keep shouting for more....


Trent D. (Saturday):

Band: great

Encores: I don't know what your correspondent is telling you, but I lost count at four.

Standouts: Two Librans, Touch Sensitive, Mr. Pharmacist, Way Round (a real kicker-uh)

Disappointments: No Damo (and there was already enough there that this is just idle carping). -=trent, more as i adjust to the post-Fall-show ennui


All in all it was a wonderful night. It's difficult not to compare it to the 1985 show I saw here in Ohio long long ago, but somehow that seems inappropriate. It was a different band, a different time, and I was definitely a different person.

This new band is a very stripped down affair, very matter of fact. No frills really, no extraneous bells or whistles. The streamlining though, makes their sound more raw, more visceral. Considering that twenty-some years have gone by, one would almost feel glad to have even a light glossy hits-only Fall (whatever that would sound like). Well, as it so happens, they are anything but light, and the only gloss I saw was the sweat from several hundred DIE HARD fans (rare was the head that wasn't joggling along in anarchic bliss).

There is still a vital core here, and heaping amounts of energy, confidence, crackle & finesse. Mark looks remarkably good & focused (pictures don't do justice). He knows how to work a crowd with the best of them. The band, stripped down to a well-grounded rhythm section and geetar, faltered not at all, and my only complaint (such as it is) is that it could have even been a bit louder (from what I read, I think the West Coast contingent were probably blessed with a better sound system, maybe). But then it was plenty loud for the most part.

My favorites were a completely decimating encore of Two Librans, a version of Wayround that sounded really hypnotic in a vaguely Can-ish way, oh gosh, I could go on. By the way, does anyone have a final count on how many encores they played. I think it was four (or maybe five), including one that kicked off right when pretty much everyone had started filing out of the hall. Too funny.

Michael Pinto (Saturday):

Quick Notes:

- Played with quite a bit more energy than yesterday.
- Opening act was much better and didn't take themselves too seriously.
- Met some wonderful other Fall fans from Chicago, Jersey/Philly (Kate), a sweet couple from England, and Trent/hisgurlfriend and Stefan too...
- The manager kicked ass! Told some yabbo off before the show (warns him "you should be greatful we are in New York"), grabbed Mark's jacket when it fell, got his Microphone, came out to signal audience more acts on the way and let the audience know when the show was over. Where was this guy before???
- Good advice: Use the coat check as it gets hot on the club floor.
- Merchandise on sale! Two t-shirts, a simple "THE FALL" against black and a red one for the Unuttterable. No copies of Missing Winner in site. Of course I purchased a black one...
- Show highlight: Yabbo heckles MES when starting to do a poetry bit - yabbo sez "Speak English!" MES retorts "You Creature-ah!"
- Show highlights: Audiuence goes wild with Dr. Pharm, and he did a version of Dr. Bucks letter. Similar set but different order than last night...
- Heard a rumor that they are coming back in April (I hope it's true).
- It seems that EVERYBODY BUT ME ran into MES at some point before the show - at the corner deli, in their hotel at the bar. The funny part is that when most people met him they don't know what to say.

Joe Kard2000 (Saturday):

Another Great show! not to much to add to whats been posted already...similiar set as friday new with the the addition of "Jims The Fall" and "Antidotes"...even less twiddling than friday night...i think there were something like four encores.

highlites: Dr Bucks letter and getting the checklist twice....with the additon of carrying a gold amex card and jd salingers cather in the rye...and being in the realm of dus (isnt that the full title for ROD) and the realm of deprssion instead of tong.

during MES spoken word piece that started out: Enigmatic Dream/Modernity someone yelled out: Speak Fucking English and MES worked it into his piece saying: Speak English YOu Complete and Utter Cretin.

The opening band was truly awful and had their set cut short thanfully....one of the songs was Pen which went: Pen Pen Pen/Wheres my Pen...sort of like the dumb songs i write for restuarant jingles to amuse myself when im driving around....i mean it was nice to see them not taking themselves so seriously but it just kind of reminded me of that definition of post modern on the simpsons last week - weird for the sake of being weird.

One other thing....im not sure if this was the guy with the drumsticks but he looked very much like him...this guy nudged his way through the crowd and of course plows into me and decideds my back is a decent resting place for his arm...and of course while smoking decided to hold his ciggarette in front of my face...as ive grown older ive learned its usually not a good idea to mess with people bigger then me plus i knew he would weasel his way up front eventually -- but if your on this list please be more fucking considerate of others.

And the last note...i seem to be a magnet for couples that want to make out. Friday night i was over under the left PA and there was a hetero couple having an intense make out session....and sat night i was standing pretty close to the left pillar by the stage and a gay couple eventually wormed there way in front of me and decided to make out....i dont know...a fall concert is kind of the last place i would think of getting any tail.

On Friday mark had on Black Trousers and a Green Shirt...Sat Night Black Trousers with a belt over the belt loops and a blue-ish shirt (im kinda color blind so may be a bit off)

And did Mark Get a Haircut or was it the beer i was consuming? Nice to see MES drinking Heinekin.

Justin Kollar (Saturday):

> during MES spoken word piece that started out: Enigmatic Dream/Modernity
> someone yelled out: Speak Fucking English and MES worked it into his piece
> saying: Speak English YOu Complete and Utter Cretin.

i just got home and i'm way too tired and happy to go into vast detail, but the exchange went like this:

mark (fumbling with papers) "modernity... what does it mean?"

asshole who already got reamed out by blaney: "speak english mate!"

mes (who by all accounts does not hear any voices except those in his head, but does not miss a beat here: "speak english mate. what does it mean? you are a complete. fucking. cretin.

cheers from audience.

i'll try to do a comprehensive review tomorrow, but suffice it to say that they were twice as good as i hoped they would be. plus they stayed at the same hotel as me.

[here it is:]

shiny baubles purchased on mulberry street secreted safely in the hotel, we head for the club. arriving at 5 til 7pm, we find the tap bar in the basement. we're the first ones there, so we settle in at the bar and chat idly with the bartender whilst sipping the extremely delicious Brooklyn brown ale. halfway through our second pint (having switched to the even more delicious Brooklyn lager) i manage to locate stefan upstairs, nursing a sad-looking bottle of sam adams. delighted, we skulk back to the basement. i notice the fall t-shirts (as predicted, not my size, wicked expensive). two more pints and i buy one anyway. we encounter michael pinto, shoot the shit for a while. i'm anxious, so we head upstairs a little early.

the opening band is neither here nor there. i couldn't pay attention if i wanted to. they finish mercifully quick and the Fall start to set up. i don't know if they borrowed their equipment from Kids, Incorporated or what but they've got real small amps. luckily they turn them up loud.

and it begins, launching into the Joke. MES bursts up onto stage, looking unnaturally focused. creepy, but more animated. although the skin hangs off his face in great sheets, his eyes are sharp and i can tell he knows what's going on. good sign. the band are sharp, tight, and they keep rolling whatever the fuck mark happens to do.

MES is clearly being handled by blaney as one would handle an elderly parent. sounds mean, but he's probably happy to not have to worry about minor shit like where they're sleeping or whether the band quits.

so the show kicks ass. crop dust is hypnotic, pure repetition with loads of ranting, reminded me of PBL era (don't start throwing shit at me yet), mr. pharmacist gets the crowd going (the crowd is energetic the whole time, sweaty and loud), and therein, kick the can/f-oldin $, cyber, sons of temperance. the spoken word bit was great, and they did three encores. kept waiting for 2 librans, finally came near the end. kept waiting for damo, it never did, but i didn't really mind. dr. buck's sounded pretty good, mark had fire in his eyes when he came back onstage for this one. finally closed with way round, MES chanting the final chorus over and over for what must have been about 5 minutes. he seemed to get more and more excited as the show went on. blaney did a good job getting the crowd pumped up between encores. where has this guy been for the last 10 years? there was a drunk troublemaker (the fucking cretin) who he reamed out before the show. i was standing near so i heard him shouting the cretin's ear "THIS IS THE FUCKING FALL IN NEW YORK. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT FUCKING WITH MY GROUP UP THERE YOU'LL GET EJECTED AND THESE PEOPLE WILL CHEER" it was indeed a punk moment i felt good about for once.

David Plunkett (Saturday):

> It seems that EVERYBODY BUT ME ran into MES at some point
> before the show - at the corner deli in their hotel at the bar.

Me too. Just around the corner from the KF around 8:00. He and the manager asked us if we knew where there was a pub.

Great show. Maybe my favorite among 9 going back to 1983. Band is superb--I would have thought 4 or 5 people were playing, and I was expecting sloppy with no dynamics. You know this band is good because I even liked Touch Sensitive. Songs that were missing keyboards didn't seem to lack anything. And the much mentioned retort was great. Everyone remembers it differently. It will be interesting to hear a tape. From where I stood, when MES said "modernity" someone yelled "post-modern" and I thought Mark said. "Speak bloody English. you are...a complete cretin." whatever, it was hilarious.

>The funny part is that when most people met him they don't know what
> to say.

True. I didn't even acknowledge I knew who he was.

Sean O'Neal (Saturday):

I'm literally sweating, experiencing tunnel vision, barely even notice that the guy I just shoved past was that wank from the Strokes. The ticket in my hand says "The Fall." I stare at it forever and refuse to put it in my pocket.

Lovely British girl starts unpacking the shirts at a nearby table. I think I'm the first to approach her, and perhaps the first of many to say "Only XL???" I mean, Christ, throw us a bone. I'm 6' tall and these things still came down to my knees. I didn't know William "The Refrigerator" Perry was such a huge Fall fan. And $25? As much as I'd like an Unutterable shirt to remember the show by, the pictures I take will have to suffice.

Down to the bar, where I notice what are probably several Fallnetters sitting there already, all three in Fall t-shirts. I spy who I believe is Stefan in a blue Fall shirt, talking with two other chaps in Fall shirts as well. I notice he glances at me a couple of times, but I still never find the entry I'm looking for to go over and introduce myself. (For those of you who were sitting there at the bar, and who were probably--I'm guessing--Stefan, Trent and Michael Pinto, excuse the nearby snob in black glasses and white shirt/black tie/gray sweater who hovered around your perimeter but never said anything). I give-up on looking for people I know after I run into my old Fall benefactor, who recognizes me from my description, and with whom I have an awkward convo before we both slip off into the crowd.

Opening band Need New Body do a few Can-isms; the singer does a funny Bryan Ferry-esque "ghoul dance;" I am getting stoned in the corner (next to someone's 10 yr. old girl!) and so can barely decide if I like them or not. Besides, we're keeping with the business at hand, chumly...we're here to see the fucking FALL.

And then it happens: after several minutes of dizzy anticipation (during which some long-haired hippy in front of me falls flat on his back *twice* and is finally escorted out by a bartender), the band enters and launches into The Joke. MES enters to great applause, looking sullen and intense and everything else I'd hoped he'd be, dressed in a long black leather coat. I am officially in dumbstruck fanboy mode; my fucking hero is a mere 10-12 feet away from me, and he's saying "Good evening, we are the Falllrrrrr-uhhh!" I begin snapping pictures and I forget all about the drink I'm holding.

Now, I realize that this is my first and only Fall show. Therefore I am biased. And given the distance I've traveled, the affection which I feel for this band, the years of anticipation which has led up to this moment, and the stellar reviews I've read thus far, I can be forgiven a certain tint of rose on my glasses. I go in expecting the worst, however, keeping my video copy of the '98 show in mind. I mention to my friend that I have filled half of my roll of film with WTC photos, and the other half are reserved for the Fall show: thus I will have an entire roll of disaster footage. But nothing prepares me for this.

The band is tight. Mark seems to be enjoying himself--I notice no knob-twiddling. There is only one walk-off, one "oh no, here we go" moment following a somewhat lackluster "Touch Sensitive," but thankfully they come back to do several more (see the setlist). Now, perhaps I'm daft, because I seem to remember "Enigmatic Dream" being their closer. The way I remember it is thusly: as the lights come on and people begin to file out I start to feel cheated, depressed, and suddenly, they're back on again. And what is the reward?

"Wake Up in the City!"

Fucking-A! I hadn't seen this listed anywhere in the UK or US show reviews, and I can't believe I'm hearing it now. (Maybe I love this song too much and that's why I seem to believe it was the first real encore. But by my count and my notes, The Fall did 5 total encores, so maybe I'm not the most trustworthy source). This has to be my favorite new Fall song in years and they're actually performing it. Another exit, and another moment of nervous anticipation. I will be pissed if they don't play "Antidotes" like I'd read about. And so they enter again, perhaps just for me (see "Wake Up in the City"), with

"ANTIDOTES"! I am officially won over. This is now the best show I have ever seen. It sounds silly to those of you used to seeing The Fall at your neighborhood grocer going back to '81 that I would get so excited over a Marshall Suite song, but I take what I can get. It's phenomenal. "Way Round" is great too, but I'm still reeling.

Another walk-off. The lights come back up and the recorded "exit" music is playing, when their manager takes center stage and begins exhorting the crowd to demand they come back for more. He continues during "Dr. Buck's Letter," waving his arms and reciting the first lines again and again while Mark prowls around the stage, shouting the words out sans mike, opening his gob wide enough to reveal his complete lack of teeth. Manager begins emphasizing "down at the end of New York Avenue" and waving his arms like he was Vanilla Ice. We hear the checklist twice. Mark exits after giving us "I never go anywhere without my gold AmEx card. People look at me cheaply without it. And JD Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye'."

Could it really be over? The guitarist enters humbly, grinning, giving us a "one more" signal. They tear through "Two Librans." Everyone seems spent. The guitarist is the last one left onstage, smiling from ear to ear, nodding at all of us like we were the ones who'd made the show, perhaps by not pissing Mark off; he seems to know that the band has left us satisfied, "Damo" or no "Damo." I'm done after hanging around an extra ten minutes to make sure it's really over. I stand outside the club and hastily fill a page of notes while my friend tries to locate Kokie's Place via NY Information. Here's the first thing I write down:

"Speak English, man!" "Speak English, mate! What does that even fucking mean? You are a total fucking cretin."

But everyone remembers it differently, don't they? To that end, I would absolutely love a copy of this show from anyone who recorded it. Name your reward.

I won't bore you with any further details of my NY exploits, or the story of how I managed to stay up another 12 fitful hours in the LaGuardia airport. Suffice to say that it's part of a larger story than even this massive email can hold...but this, this which I have shared with you was

My First Fall Show.
(cue sentimental music)
(soften the lighting)
(fade out on me tucked snugly under a down comforter, extinguishing a candle)

Thanks for your time.

Greg Lyon (Saturday & Sunday):

If I had chosen to write this post yesterday, my tone would indeed have been dire, for I left the Saturday evening show entirely depressed. Quite frankly, I think the Saturday show was terrible, and it had nothing to do with the atrocious opening act (except that they pissed off the Fall's "manager" by cutting into the Fall's sound check, or so I heard from a friend overhearing the verbal fight as Need New Body/Concept were loading out). The sound was muddy and the playing uninspired. The guitarist kept looking around during the set like he was more interested in the architectural fixtures than the band. Mark was on best behavior Saturday, though--didn't even twiddle with knobs, at least from my vantage point. The encores were a bit more inspired, but I really believe the regular set was dismal. I left the show thinking that my steadfast favorite band had gone from being a circus act (last US tour) to a nostalgia act.

I reluctantly went back on Sunday, and I'm very glad I did. First, Gang of Four on helium opened for the Fall. Well, at least that's what the Rapture were shooting for. I'm not sure Mark was much better last night, but maybe. There was knob twiddling (to some purpose and effect, I thought), drum mike fiddling, and bewildered microphone hunting. The spoken word piece (whose backing music was dreadful both nights, thanks to the guitarist--more on him in a minute) lacked the ad-lib of Saturday. The real difference in the evenings, though, was the band and the sound. They didn't appear to be running through the songs just to get through them, as on Saturday. The sound was much fuller, indicating that they needed that Saturday sound check time after all. The crowd was also more congenial (although there was a complete moron with big hair in the front who decided we all needed to pogo and shower in his beer during Mr. Pharmacist). After they finished with Damo Suzuki (which they did not do on Saturday), I was actually impressed. Restored my faith. Made me happy.

But all is not well here, really. I'm all for stripping down the Fall sound, but the power trio simply is not sustainable with the Fall Formula. The trademark repetition of the songs has always been mitigated by an extra source that adds variety, be it the screachy 2nd guitar (Scanlon et al.), the actual synth keyboard, or the programmed electronic stuff. I don't like the programmed stuff in general, but Cyber Insekt without it is not really Cyber Insekt. And seeing Crop-Dust live was embarrassing. The only thing the guitarist did was play that quite silly snake charmer riff over and over. There was simply something lacking, and I think it's a second guitarist-- someone to at least attempt to replicate the bits that add texture to Fall songs. The bassist is nowhere as crisp, heavy, or inventive as Hanley ever was, and the drummer, while rather steady, is not as dynamic as I would have liked. I simply don't know what to think of the guitarist. I suspect he's fine--if there's another one playing with him. He makes them sound a great deal more like the Stooges, and I'm not sure how good a thing that is, at least in this case (usually I would say it's a VERY good thing). All I can say is that I hope that this lineup gets tweaked a great deal for the next album and tour.

More random song comments:

"Dr. Buck's Letter": oddly, this worked on Sunday night--don't know why. At least it showed they were capable (on a good night) of translating electronica-ish song to guitar/bass/drums trio.

"Two Librans," "Way Round," and "Antidote" rocked mightily.

"Ex-Classmates Friends" failed miserably on Saturday and barely hit the mark on Sunday. This is my favorite on the new record, partly because it's recorded so far in the red, and I expected them to belt it out nicely since it's so rockish.

"Damo Suzuki" was so very tasty.

That's my highly opinionated take.

Mike (Saturday and Sunday):

I was at the NY shows Saturday and Sunday, and they were both stellar! I was right by the stage for the Sunday gig, and should have some nice pics to share soon.

The band was really rocking, and tight, and MES looked in much better health than I expected. Several times on Sunday when he came back on stage after his walk-off's he couldn't find his mic, and was roaming around the stage singing without a mic, until he found it somewhere on the floor where he threw it. Hilarious. I think he learned his lesson after the third time, and gave the mic to a fan in the front on the third walk-off.

It was great meeting other fans, such as Mike, the Chicago duo, and the cool gal who was having a blast..we were supposed to share a taxi home, but I lost her! Sorry!

Erik Neace (Friday - Sunday):

Friday; Arrived at Knitting factory early...had to be between 5-6pm hoping to catch MES at bar. Sure enough the min.Me and girlfreind walked in spotted him hunched at table in corner drinking corona & whiskey. I rcognized S.Cooke from the internet...introduced myself and then introduced meself to MES...asked about what happened to the spoken word thing...he responded something like .."changed it... bit stumped with what to say next...I replied what are you up to now?..he said something like "waitin for manager...then I shook hands with him and said its finally nice to meet you.(my first time so I was a bit nervous). Proceeded to bar to calm nerves and observe the scene. I then had my girlfreind ask to take a picture with us to no avail.

He eventually signed an old paperback of Camus' The Fall novel I had with me.He signed To Rik / Mit liebe MES Fall 20//i..... After looking at what he wrote perplexed because of handwriting..asked him what he signed...he replied Rik ..thats yur name in it... I nodded ...yes I know what that bit says what does it say under that...he mumbled wit love in German.Thanked him and moved back to stool. Drank more and waited to see the show.After hearing Ed the mgr talkin with Stefan & wife Ressa about lodging arrangements ..continued to talk with Stefan about various things and hopefully eeing sound check..again to no avail. Everyone else has posted what a great show it was ...So I'll end friday s entry here.

Saturday:Arrived at KF a little later than Friday..maybe around 7pm. Sat in bar waitin for a photo op.Girlfreind saw MES leaving main stage area at around 8pm with Ed and walked up to Mark and handed him her half full beer ..he took it and drank some..she commented on his new NY haircut considering how shabby he looked Fri...he just smiles and nods his head ... fidgeting and looking sideways .she asks him to take a photo withus and finally agrees ...(the photo wich I'll post later is a classic ....arms around both are necks and he looks overall ..happy to do it.) After this we just drank and waited for show We got stage right.

Saturday's show was most energetic thanks to Ed...with his enthusiathism to get crowd going(all entries submitted surmise it was a great show) After gig went upstairs to meet with Robert (master video millionaire man) a guy we might night before. turns out Robert is one of the nicest guys I've met at a concert before...really generous in sharing all of his experiences taping gigs. After talking with Robert about show-we saw Ed and asked what was going on after show Ed was unsure. I bought MES a whiskey and brought it into dressing room where Mark sat with drummer in silence I looked around... nodded my head and walked out Mark's an odd man but he's somewhat polite.

after hanging out awhile longer in basement bar Ed aproched me about a cool place to go($&*&)&**%^&*$) ha! I told him I was from Chicago and would ask Robert considering he was from NY... Robert suggested a club called tunnel...we agreed and all got into taxi. It was a tight fit.

At Beauty Bar which girlfriend and I visited on thanksgiving(small punk type bar with old hair dryer chairs) ed and MES had some sort of connection here for free drinks Next thing I know we're being kicked out because THE FALL 2001 is in red marker on bar (myself, nor my girl are responsible) We proceeded in taxi to another bar proceeded to get hammered and thats all you get. . .

Sunday night relaxed upstairs in seats witnessed a fight in front of stage and another roaring gig!!

Brian Summers (Saturday and Sunday):

I'm back in Chicago after a fantastic weekend in NYC. Saw The Fall on Sat. and Sun. nights. Both were shows were great (Sunday was best). I met some really nice people (including MES, who was surpisingly friendly). I'm the guy who shot the video clips mentioned previously by Stefan. These clips are up on my webpage at: http://homepage.mac.com/brians2 . There are also some pics that I shot Sat. night.

Highlights of the weekend:

1. Meeting MES Sat. night after the show. Asked him why they didn't play in Chicago. MES replied: " I love Chicago, I miss Chicago. Ed told us that they would be in Chicago in April. MES then grabbed my friend Bob and I and gave us a hug.

2. Meeting MES again on Sun. night and chatting with him and Michael for about a half hour. What a genuinely friendly guy! Who would have thought! He signed the back of my shirt, "I am a twat". Great. Ed also signed my shirt later on with, "Cheer smate". A guy named Tobias came up to us and asked if he could get a picture of MES alone. MES said no and pulled Michael and I closer. (If you see this post Tobias, I would love a copy of that picture).

3. Meeting other FFs, including Michael (great guy), Stefan, Trent, Darin, and a few others whose names escape me.

It was really great meeting you all. I hope to meet you all again sometime.

Michael Pinto (Sunday):

I'm a bit dead as it's about 2am as I write. The show was great - similar set to last night. The band was very tight and seemed to deal with the knob turning - but it would be cool if there were some keys (selfish point: I also would like to see Julia play again in NYC). After the set a fellow fan (Beth)went to the floor of the stage to get the set list - the funny thing was that the set list didn't match the order of the songs played (I made her promise to scan it and e-mail it to Stefan).

I met quite a few other Fall fans - I was quite struck by how nice they are. I made some little posters for people to hold up (and they were all too shy to do it), and I even met two folks who did their own t-shirts. So I got to talk with Chris (on bass?) who was very cool (and well read). My mom would have loved Chris as he was currently reading Dostoevsky (I didn't catch the title but it wasn't Crime and Punishment which my mom taught). So of course on the day that I didn't bring my camera I was up at the very very front at the stage - but wait it gets better - and I also got a chance to chat with Mark after the show!

Mark was very friendly - but looked a bit tired (so I didn't want to bug him too much). So of course I had to ask him "so what are you reading these days?" Without missing a beat he pulled out a copy of Weird History 101 by John Richard Stephens. He autographed a friends t-shirt (Brian from Chicago) with "I am a Twat" - very punk rock. From there the conversation covered a wide range of topics from the role of fathers in a family to the IRA bomb in Manchester a ten years ago.

Funny this all seems like a strange d4235...

Joe Kard2000 (Sunday):

My memory is almost completely shot after the third night...getting in at twelve thirty am and having to work from 7am -6pm today but here goes:

Another amazing performance for the Fall and a fantastic way to cap off the final US show. Im still deciding whether I like Friday or Sunday better...although I did like the order of the set on Friday the best.

the opening the band..the rapture...was the best out of the three...whoever described them as gang of four on helium were spot on.

The fall take the stage...the drummer with a glass of wine that he rests up on the grand piano and soon shortly launch into a great version of the Joke.

The setllist was pretty much the same....although Sons of Temperance was dropped and tonight they did a stellar version of Africa Man..much better than the lp version...they did this one after coming back from a walk off...Mark had left the mic in the bass drum...when he wandered back on stage he was singing without MIC and the people up to the right of the stage were pointing at drum and Mark turned around and pointed and looked and pointed and smiled...eventually picking up the mic and not missing a beat starts with: I dont need no microphone...i think he stuck in a bunch of different lyrics about being stuck in clinton airport as well.

Antidotes was spectacular as well...in fact in sounded more like Black Sabbath than fall (well, to me anyway).

There were somethhing like three encores...The show ended with Damo Suzuki...at one point Mark wandered of stage with the mic and was singing off the stage from that little side room..then ed came back and finished the song and left the mic with the people in the front row...which i finally managed to get too this night.


Apparently The Present EP has been withdrawn / postponed. Tracks scheduled to be on it were "My Ex-Classmates' Kids," "New Formation Sermon," and "Distilled Mug Art." I've just heard that Voiceprint will release this EP after all "in a very different form."

Pander, Panda, Panzer. According to Rob Ayling at Voiceprint: "Basically we (Mark and I) were going through the track points and we both decided it wasn't very good (bad source tapes) so we decided to can that version of it. There is a plan to record nicely in a clean studio rather that rely on live versions of the pieces."


Are You Are Missing Winner (Cog Sinister COGVP131CD) is out on CD in the UK (and Europe?). It's also been spotted at a few stores in the USA, e.g. Vintage Vinyl, Other Music.

Order it from Action Records (£11.99) and tell them you came from the Official Fall website to get a 10% discount (they ship very quickly too - I've had great success ordering from the USA).

are you are missing artist 1 Jim's "The Fall" (M.E. Smith/J. Watts)
2 Bourgeois Town (R. Johnson arr. M.E. Smith)
3 Crop-Dust (S. Birtwistle/M.E. Smith)
4 My Ex-Classmates' Kids (M.E. Smith/E. Blaney)
5 Kick the Can (M.E. Smith/B. Pritchard)
6 Gotta See Jane (R. Dean/Taylor)
7 Ibis-Afro Man (M.E. Smith/J. Watts/I. Pop)
8 The Acute (Smith/Fanning)
9 Hollow Mind (Smith/Blaney)
10 Reprise: Jane - Prof Mick - Ey Bastardo (Spencer/Blaney)

A few unconfirmed grapevine items:

  • there'll be a limited edition vinyl picture disk.... the horror. On Nov. 8 Rob Ayling sent a message to Fallnet saying there (might? will?) be a pressing of 1,000 numbered picture disks. From Opal Music: FALL Are You Missing A Winner -- (UK double LP picture disc) ... 13.95 released 03 Dec 2001 (who knows if that's really the title though)
  • Jim Watts says the shop version of the CD will have different artwork -- although it looks like the ones in the shops now are the same as the ones sold at the UK/Euro gigs, except that they've inexplicably switched Crop-Dust with My Ex-Classmates' Kids on the cover??
  • MES called Rob Ayling at Voiceprint "requesting some changes to the tracks."

The artwork
(further creative critiques would be welcome; email them to scooke@sdf.lonestar.org)

  • The cover is truly, TRULY dire, breathtakingly, dreadfully crap.
  • They should have had somebody crap on a piece of paper and photocopy it - that would have been better. May have got a bit squished in the photocopier though.
  • The new fall cover looks like a fall cover, is all. most are crappy looking, but at least they're shabby in a way that's recognizeable as being fall shabbiness. when i saw the unutterable cover, i thought, oboy, this looks halfass. of course, i was pleased to hear what the album sounded like. it's among the band's recent best. then i took a closer look at other covers, like infotainment scan, marshall suite, cerebral caustic, the frenz experiment, the wonderful and frightening world of the fall, middle class revolt--some of which are cool-looking, if shabby--and i realized that the fall are more hit and miss with art work than they are with music. still, i s'pose fall fans like to grouse as much or more as anyone else. here's hoping for more crap covers to come!
  • Jesus.. it's appalling, isn't it? Looks like some monkey was let loose on Corel Draw 5 for 10 minutes. You know what... it actually discouraged me from buying the album. I was wavering already (what with the negative views prevalent on the list), but the artwork tipped me over the edge. A shame :-(
  • Thanks to Ian Willey, here's the cover inversed with Photoshop. I'm assuming these faces will mean something to UK readers... Someone insists this is MES - I can't see it though (??)

Voiceprint has two Real Audio selections (encoded @ 16 Kbps) on their site:

The first batch of reviews are on the November 11 news page... latest ones follow...

Erik Neace:

First off I like all Fall records

But track by track here is how it goes for me

Jim's: this one is old school.(repeated listening hopefully will spell lyrics better)

B-town: A great track. repetative in your head right away-blues riff reminds me of Jungle Rock". Everyone writes in saying that they dont know "what he's on about but ya know damn well what he's on about'' thats what makes it cool and incomparible

Cropdust:This one is great.Reminds me of bagpipes-should be longer as someone else stated. The best Fall song for awhile.

Ex kids: strongest drumming since Hex .Im lovin that part right away. Reminds me of Thee Headcoats.B. Childish-BUT mark was always rokabilly before them this one is kicker.

Kick the Can: You are flying-customs to your visit? classic riff and all that but still a throw away. hopefully not on first listen.

Gotta See Jane:cover song of course - weak but Im sure thats the point. Ibis:crazy and yet obviously confusing.

The Acute:Its funny why the music so low in the mix. You always hope the words will be more informative but of course they ars not.Nonetheless a great fall number.

Hollow Mind: This song is ..... Jerusalem- thats all i can think of when i hear it. Im sure most will agree after repeated listens.But still a good one.

Reprise:Great stuff w/ the spanish Bastero thing muust say to end it "dont know what he's on about".

This music is better than Unutterable- not only for the production-but its more punk and low shod and i think thats the way to go for them.Notice there is no dance stuff... although that stuff sounds cool.... its better to have mark and the Fall at the Height of there begining... Where else would He GO?

Mark Healy:

I love this fucking album. My enthusiasm for the Fall is back full force. First of all, if you don't have this yet, get off your white ass and order/find it. Take you hand out of your pocket dickweed, especially if you have a credit card and can make it happen. I ordered it from Action on Wednesday, Nov. 7, went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Nov. 8, and came back to shitty cold california yesterday to find it in my office and it made coming home a whole lot easier.

Yes, Jim's the Fall. Bourgois Town is prime fall as is Crop-Dust, which could end up being the classic from the album. Classmates works pretty well. Jane is a great taking off point, sending the record headlong into its strengths. The sequence from Jane to Bastardo entertains me as much as the 2nd half of any Fall LP, and that's all I want from it. Ibis-Afro Man is excellent. The Acute and Hollow Mind aren't filler yet (but give me a few listens) and the band are clearly good at translating MES' ideas. The guitars in Acute do the job as well as any typical Brix-Scanlon interplay and Hollow Mind is Jerusalem, but it's not like Jerusalem was an original composition either. And the reprise? If you can't appreciate this than you should take your Stereolab album and shove it up your yyprg's ass.

At first I thought, "only 10 tracks...what the fuck?" But then thinking back to the dregs of tracks 11-15ish throughout the 90's output, I'm happy for the lack of secession man et al.

Alright, he's not totally off the hook. Yes, MES is about the music, not the artwork. But this looks started and thrown together in Photoshop at 4:30pm when whoever needed it by 6:00pm or the album would be delayed for 2 months. And the fucked up Kick/Classmates order on the cover..?

I don't find the production too lo-fi. It's just stripped down and lacks keyboards, though the over-the-top vocals add to the demo feel of it. I think it probably feels more rough to those who enjoy the more techno Fall albums as opposed to those of us who are in more of the grotesque/cerebral frame-of-mind.

And it's less than a week until the San Francisco gig. Fuck yes. Bring it on.


Thanks to Pete Conkerton for spotting this:
From Julian Cope's web site, in a review of the Boredoms' "Vision Creation New Sun":

"You know how you occasionally read a review of some new Fall LP and they say the Fall are back on form and you just gotta hear this particular record and you get all excited and hopping cause if the Fall just got genuinely back on it (even briefly) U-Know it would be a pagan free-for-all to live for. And it has intriguing song titles like "Dame J. Burchill Art Gulag" and a supposedly great cover version of Don Covay’s "It’s Better to Have & Don’t Need (Than Need & Don’t Have)". And in that brief time between reading about the album and hearing the album, you’re a kid again with a kid’s dreams and a whole world of possibilities (not just musical) is thrown up in front of you. Then you hear that new Fall record and it’s just more embittered semi-mystical coded fraudulent ramblings about NOTHING nothing NOTHING.

BUT......... it does not matter because you’ve still enjoyed AND lived fully through those moments of possibilities.

Well this album is all those possibilities AND it achieves. Those of you who always wanna dig my Album of the Month but then get disappointed because its way too weird and not weird enough and too rock but not rock enough and too obscure but not obscure enough - well, this is the album for you! You are all gonna get down on your knees and crawl to my front door after this one. Crawl crawl crawl.


Derek Westerholme:

The new album by a group called "It's The Black-Eyed Snakes" has a glorious 7min45sec version of My New House on it. It's all trashy blues in the most wonderful lo-fi garage tradition.

It also features Low's Zac Sally on two tracks... one playing Harmonica, and one playing "retar". Has some great other covers... Dixon/Moby's Honey (Based, as we all probably know & the liner notes are quick to point out, on a Bessie Jones Song) and Low/Dirty Three's "Lordy".

My New House Live At Bev's Juke Joint, Superior, Wisconsin, June 2001. http://www.blackeyedsnakes.com/multimedia/newhouse.mp3


Thanks to Jack DeGuiseppi:

from the local music/arts scene rag (Seattle). here's the link to the article -- http://www.thestranger.com/2001-11-15/music2.html. Gotta warn you - this guy is worshiping at the altar of MES

A Personal Dedication to the Fall
by Evan Sult

The Fall w/ Kinski
Crocodile, Tues Nov 20, $15/$18.

The Fall played its first show when I was two years old, and I first heard the band when I was 20. Now, at 28, I have my first chance to see the band live. This is not a moment to take lightly: The Fall's members are the human agents of chaos on Earth. Their music is pure perversion of music itself; a cancellation of beauty and meaning by something grotesque and random and inscrutable. Just the presence of the Fall's music in the world is destructive, and the sheer abundance of it is unholy. The Fall's work destroys the two human fundaments, language and music. The Fall is anti-matter, the ultimate heretical evidence.

Following the suggestion of Pavement from any of its many interviews in the wake of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, I persuaded a friend to let me borrow the one Fall CD he owned but had never listened to: The Frenz Experiment. At first listen, it was repulsive and practically unlistenable. But I was spurred on by the sheer difficulty of the experience, and a few surprising vocal tics that Steve Malkmus had clearly assimilated into his own band's music. For the entire autumn of that year, I walked to classes, anywhere really, with my headphones on, engaged in a brain-wide battle with this impossible music. Mark E. Smith's voice was so nagging and defiantly out of tune, and his lyrics almost violently obscure, it was a true musical struggle. For the first two weeks, I grappled with it, trying to argue with it.

I can still remember standing in Schmidt Hall at UW, next in line to talk to a secretary who held the fate of my scholastic life in her hands, and realizing that I was unable to take my headphones off. I had been invaded, overcome, conquered. I had entered a labyrinth of roughened, wicked desires and arcane declarations, and the next few months were not mine to determine: They belonged to the Fall. I don't pretend to understand what the fuck Smith is talking about in "Carry Bag Man" or "Bremen Nacht," but neither can I ignore the songs in favor of more scrutable music.

Finally, the album released me--but only to go out and find other Fall records to wonder at. I have no idea how the Fall fits into the lives of other music listeners, at least here in the U.S. By itself the band is a seminal branch of punk music, and it has influenced dozens of bands. The Fall has about 80 official albums, probably another 80 live albums, reissues, or unofficial collections, and an untold number of seven-inch releases. In fact, the releases are as unruly and disrespectful of the rules of music as the songs are: songs are repeated across albums, sometimes in variations, sometimes not.

The Twenty-Seven Points, the album that I next stumbled across, is a two-CD set of live takes, dressing-room joke-telling, onstage dia- logue between Mark E. Smith and his own pre-recorded voice, narratives related over music, a cover of the Other Half's "Mr. Pharmacist," and other completely bizarre songs and snippets, all wrecked and beatified by Mark E. Smith's malevolent genius and sneering vocals-uh.

Hell yes, genius. Once sensitized to the band, nothing is ever the same at all. The span of the Fall's work, from early straight-up punk noise like Bend Sinister to "electronic-influenced" albums like Extricate, and on to the current weirdness that is The Marshall Suite, swallows most other music whole. I now own 14 Fall albums and a half-dozen singles (a mere fraction of the total) and am still compelled to haunt the band's bins at every music shop I visit. In English record stores, there are whole walls of the Fall's albums, though I never saw anyone even glance at those racks.

Never mind that: The Brits know how to pay respect. Music historians and other culture barons may sniff at the endurance of the Fall, claiming to have been there and gotten over it. I refuse. The Fall cannot truly be gotten over, under, or around. At the band's most horrid and difficult, it's at the heart of all punk's bastardy and ruthlessness. The Fall has no right to exist, and the fact that it thrives on can only be taken to mean that we deserve it.


Martin Kremers's wife Ini took some great photos of MES at the Vaals gig (Oct. 20).


Nov. 28, 2001

This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.

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Recent news...

011113 first batch of AYAMW reviews, London Forum gig reports
011105 Euro gig reports, Knitting Factory Knotes interview
011019 UK gig reports, studybees interview
010930 tour / booking details, 1979 fanzine interview
010909 not much
010828 Flitwick single, 82/83 gig pics
010627 Faustus
010531 Dublin pics, Cash for Questions, Guardian interview
010429 IR, UK gig reviews
010409 NL gig reviews
010303 Dublin gig, Invisible Jukebox
010128 World Bewitched details
010101 some ace Castlefield pics
001219 more reviews
001201 tour reviews, crap interviews
001110 Unutterable reviews
001021 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy dogs
001011 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
000912 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
000822 Portugal, Manchester gigs 
000809 bits & pieces
000723 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details, Triple Gang reviews
000709 few bits
000620 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
000530 LA2 reviews
000522 few old LP reviews
000502 bits & pieces
000424 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
000408 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other interview snippets
000326 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar interview (plus others)
000314 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
000224 Past Gone Mad details
000213 few bits & pieces
000130 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
000120 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
000110 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc

Old stuff: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999