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.
Los Angeles (MES
spoken word, or "ranting and raving" according to
site). Support: Lydia Lunch.
Factory, Los Angeles
(support: Theory of Ruin, Mecca Normal)
Factory, Los Angeles (support: Flash Express, Midget Handjob)
American Music Hall, San Francisco (support: Erase Errata, the Evening)
Cafe, Seattle (support: Kinski)
Factory, New York
Factory, New York
Factory, New York
the tour winds up in Manchester...
and Firkin, Oxford Road, Manchester (gig moved from Planet K).
kindly sent the booking details:
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
Closes 02:00, venue manager guesses group off by about 23:00. (someone
should run a sweepstake!)
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
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.
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?
Regroup & try for
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.
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
Sorry, Chris D is
a nice guy, but he didn't pull this one off. I think he knew it, too.
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
Dame Darcey? She
made me nervous. Genius. Too bad everyone fled after the 'headliner'.
Even stayed to chat with her. Yikes.
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
Factory, Los Angeles, Nov. 14, 2001
(a few photos thanks to Cole
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
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.
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.
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......
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
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,
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.
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)
* 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!"
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.
his review a little later....
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
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
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.
If Wednesday night
was a rocket ride, Thursday night was a sine wave.
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
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
Slang King kindly
sent the set list and a photo of
MES caught in the act.
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......
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?
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.
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:
(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
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.
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.
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
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),
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...
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
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
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
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...
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.
Wow. Great night
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'
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
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.
Cafe, Seattle, Washington, Nov. 20, 2001
Many thanks to Nick
Hough for the set list.
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.
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.
Here are some pictures:
Factory, New York City
Friday, Nov. 23 - Sunday, Nov. 25, 2001 (some reviews cover more than
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
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
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."
& 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.
- 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
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]
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"
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
Others have covered
the NYC shows well. Here's my few thoughts.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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):
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)
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
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):
- 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
- 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
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
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
> 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.
> 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
>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
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
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.
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:
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
Thanks for your
Greg Lyon (Saturday
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
"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.
"Way Round," and "Antidote" rocked mightily.
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
"Damo Suzuki" was
so very tasty.
That's my highly
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
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!
Erik Neace (Friday
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
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.
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
Brian Summers (Saturday
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
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
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:
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
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.
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."
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."
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).
"The Fall" (M.E. Smith/J. Watts)
Town (R. Johnson arr. M.E. Smith)
(S. Birtwistle/M.E. Smith)
Ex-Classmates' Kids (M.E. Smith/E. Blaney)
the Can (M.E. Smith/B. Pritchard)
See Jane (R. Dean/Taylor)
Man (M.E. Smith/J. Watts/I. Pop)
Jane - Prof Mick - Ey Bastardo (Spencer/Blaney)
A few unconfirmed
- 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."
(further creative critiques would be welcome; email them to email@example.com)
- 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...
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
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
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
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.
w/ the spanish Bastero thing muust say to end it "dont know what he's
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
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
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:
Cope's web site, in a review of the Boredoms' "Vision Creation
"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.
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.
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
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
GOD, I LOVE YOU
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,
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
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).