Fall play ...
Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal (20 euros, doors 8
p.m., Fall on stage 10 p.m.) (note: the Porto gig
on Sept. 28 has been cancelled - not sure if tickets are valid for
the Centro gig or not, so check with the venue)
Manchester (£12 + booking fee, tickets from Ticketline,
doors 8 p.m.). The Pubic
Fringe to open.
Thanks to Simon for the poster.
Manchester (£12 + booking fee, tickets from Ticketline,
doors 8 p.m.). Supporting are Steve Evets' band Dr.
Freak's Padded Cell.
Centre, Leeds (£12 adv, £14 door), supported by Being
90-100 Market Street, Manchester (6pm - live set followed by autographing)
Academy, Islington, London N1 (£12 adv). According to their
site: "Mark E. Smith presents The Fall, John Cooper Clarke, and
Real New Fall L.P. (Formerly Country On The Click)" release
date is Monday, October 27 for both CD (£10.99)
and LP editions (£11.99). Full
details are on Conway's handy promo page.
And there's a single
out on Action December 8 -- tracks are:
4 U a Protein Christmas
Girl in Shop
(We Are) mod-mock.goth
Recovery Kit 2 #
Mark wanted to release
an xmas single so we went into the studio and did a remix of Protein
Protein (with interesting results). Two brand new tracks and an alternative
version of Recovery Kit from the one on the album. There is a concept
idea in the single somewhere, Mark was the driving force behind= it.
I am still trying to figure it out!!!! Take it easy.
was "reviewed" on the October 3 Roundtable
(a BBC 6 Music radio show) -- you can listen to it here
(it starts at 19:52:00). They also played a bit of Ho(e)uston
(written by Lee Hazlewood for Dean Martin).
The Fall are to
play HMV Manchester on the 27th of October, and they'll be signing copies
of their excellent new album "The Real New Fall LP" afterwards.
HMV in Manchester
is at the following:
90 / 100 Market Street,
Manchester M1 1PD
Jim's friend at playlouder.com:
PlayLouder has heard
the brand new Fall album, and we're pleased to say it's their best in
years. Seriously guvnor - it's brilliant.
'The Real New Fall
Album' will be coming out on the 27th of October, produced by Grant
The original version
surfaced some time in February, and was leaked onto the internet. At
the time it was to be called 'Country on the Click', and was mixed by
bassist Jim Watts. Since then Watts has left The Fall, and Mark E. Smith
has taken it upon himself to remix the album dilligently "rather
than just going 'ah fuck it, that'll do'" said an insider.
for their most accessible record in years, released through Action Records
is as follows:
1. Green Eyed Loco
2. Mountain Energei
3. Theme from Sparta FC
5. Last Commands
of XYRALOTHEP via M.E.S
6. Janet vs
Jane and Johny
7. The Past
Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal, Sept. 29, 2003:
The setlist, very
similar to the US tour with the addition of Boxoctosis. Many thanks to
Behind the Counter
/ Telephone Thing / Green Eyed Loco Man / Mountain Energei / F-Oldin'
Money > Kick the Can / Contraflow / Boxoctosis / Theme from Sparta
FC / Mere Pseud Mag Ed / Mr. Pharmacist / Janet vs Johnny / New Big
Prinz // White Lightning / Dr. Buck's Letter // Way Round
Nuno's written a review
in Portuguese here.
He's translating it into English for me, I hope*. It suggests that Steve
Evets played bass, but I've been assured that Dingo is still in the band.
* Four Foot
Vauxhall Carton from the message board tackled a translation
of Nuno's review:
Took me hours this!
The CCB was a strange
choice of venue for The Fall. The comfortable armchairs did not suit
the sense of anticipation. The room, initially quite empty, did not
fill, but it had a decent sized crowd ready to receive the band.
The troops entered
first: Steve Evets [it was Dingo, not Evets - Stefan], Dave
Milner, Ben Pritchard, and Eleanor Smith (keyboards). They began with
the intro to "Behind the Counter". Mark E. Smith walked on
eventually. With it, the crowd started to abandon the chairs and moved
ahead to what passed for a moshpit. MES looked leaner, but with a bored
expression. A garage rendition of "Telephone Thing", showed
that currently the Fall are practically electrónica free. MES
started his traditional microphone antics. None seemed to satisfy him.
Occasionally he abandoned them completely and continued to sing. Other
times he left them on the keyboards, in the pit, not giving the roadies
After a couple of
older tracks, the time came to preview some of the very promising new
album. A first medley included one brilliant "Green Eyed Loco Man"
and a "Mountain Energei" which did not include the threatening
keyboards of Eleanor Smith. MES discovered another playful activity
on stage: to mess around with the buttons of the amplifiers of the guitar
and bass, causing complete chaos for Ben and Steve so much that, inbetween
songs, they desperately tried to reset the things.
Old favourites would
follow: "Mere Pseud Mag Ed", the oldest from their back catalogue,
followed by the popular "Mr. Pharmacist " which was well received
by the relieved public, in delirium. Unhappily the microphone problems
had come back during "Janet versus Johnny", also from their
new album . It was a mike-free performance, as MES had exhausted all
microphones. As ever they ended with "New Big Prinz". The
crowd received a hypnotic drawn out version - as the public proved that
the “He is not appreciated” was not applicable to them cheering
them on for an encore, the band returned for two songs: the rockabilly
"White Lightning", in an almost thrash version, and "Dr.
Buck's Letter " that, more electric than electrónica, did
not work out as MES, by now exasperated with the microphone problems
walked off and the song finished something incomplete.
The band came back
for a second encore after a long wait. But they could have had many.
All in all, and taking into account the many personnel disruptions it
was a great show despite ending with a lacklustre "Way Round".
The public still asked for one third encore, but the lights of the room
had been lit, ending this spectacular show.
The Fall had made
the peace with the Portuguese public, after their problematic visits
in the past. The energy in them seems inexhaustible, the new songs shows
a return of the band to a form they have not known since “The
Unutterable”. The behaviour onstage of Mark E. Smith is as strange
as ever. You pay your money and you know what youre going to get.
The crowd loved
what the band were prepared to give them: a merge of "F-Old Money"
and "Kick The Can", sped up and explosive, preceded already
by the mythical “Good evening, we are The Fall.” They returned
more to the new album with three songs: "Contraflow", "Boxoctosis"
and "Theme From Sparta FC". The ability of the latest recruits
to the MES ranks is great, with special praise for the bassist. In the
drumseat, Dave Milner marked the traditional Fall groove, also participating
in the choruses. Ben Pritchard, beyond being an excellent guitarist,
also seems to be a very affable type, to judge for the bonhomie with
which he tolerates the provocations of the Master (insults, hitting
with microphone, pinching the face...).
de Belem" seemed like the last place on earth to see a Fall gig,
a very art conscious, snob type of place, certainly not much rock predisposed.
The band hadn't played for about 2 months, there were rumors that the
concert in Porto had been cancelled due to only 12 tickets being sold
(though this was about a month before the show!). The perspectives weren't
I went with 2 friends,
one as crazy by The Fall as I am, the other not much into it but extremely
open minded, musically wise. And we were in the first row. Yes! It was
chairs for everybody and there was a small pit in front of the stage,
probably for an orchestra!
After a poor act
that went almost unnoticed, lasted some 20 minutes only, and didn't
had any thing to do with the band to which they were opening (let's
mention their names, just cause they're young, and some friends of mine
know them: Jaguar), I notice that the room, large and with excellent
sound conditions, begun to look composed.
people were there, maybe a thousand, I can't tell for sure. Most of
them seemed to be waiting maybe for a sort of revival group, back from
the eighties and late seventies, some old punk glory who had lost it's
edge and direction (like all groups from that time eventually did?).
And then again, I guess some people go to see just about every show,
if they feel it might be cool. Who knows? I'm speculating.
At the far right
side of the stage there was an extremely tiny synthesizer. I've read
the comments on the US tour here in the Fallnet, but I never thought
it could actually be that small! I was waiting to hear some spoken word
tape introduction, from "Pander, Panda, Panzer", but nothing
of the sort happened.
The band comes in,
discretely but confident, and after a few seconds I realize they've
thrown themselves brutally against "Behind the Counter". I
look over to my friend with a huge smile on my face, as if I just had
great sex, and something snaps in my brain. In less than a minute, all
the people from the first rows stand up automatically and stand close
to the stage. We are also there.
Mark E. Smith comes
in and is welcomed like a rock god, which in fact he is, although he
also looks like a tiny, thin man someone just dragged from the pub and
isn't very much sure where the hell he is . The band is playing as tight
and hard as nothing I ever heard. I'd seen them 3 years ago, also in
Portugal, but these guys play at least 10 times better. They are totally
focused, the sound just hits you in the pit of the stomach and this
huge massive beat goes on forever (sometimes too long, but I'll talk
about it later), relentlessly and unforgiving. I believe only The Stooges
ever did anything quite like it, but that's just my opinion.
During the first
5 or 6 songs they are absolutely unbelievable! The keyboards are heard
loud and clear, sometimes even over the guitar, and they perfectly add
that extra aural dimension which, to me, is everything The Fall is about,
and that I didn't heard 3 years ago, even though Julia Nagle was there.
The bass and guitar are as close together as (I know it seems a heresy,
but it's true) Hanley and Scanlon might have been. The drummer just
keeps the beat in perfect time, solid and straight, even though I sometimes
wished he played a little bit more around it, but I do not believe those
are Mark's instructions.
The control he has
over that band is sometimes unbelievable. I know a lot of people said
it already, and in better ways, but it's mind blowing to see. Each time
he goes to the bass amplifier, it just sounds louder, more distorted,
stronger and BETTER. This I also felt, 3 years back, in "Arcos
de Valdevez ", in the North of Portugal.
Midway through Telephone
Thing, the way Mark was singing "I heard you Telephone Thing/ I…..sensed
you!" makes me think of his alleged youth psychic powers and sends
shivers down my spine. As H. P. Lovecraft always said "there are
things that are best left alone". Even though this is not in any
way one of my favorite Fall songs, it was delivered with strength and
conviction as almost every one of them.
Man, which I hadn't heard before, was probably the best song of the
evening, and it was played with care and mastery. I think the guitarist
does a great job, and he is clearly very skilled, in a conventional
way. This song just reminds me that in the heart of each Fall tune there
is, deep down there, a pure pop genius, waiting to be found. Then Mountain
Energy was almost as good and seemed to have some very funny lyrics.
I even thought I saw Mark rehearsing 2 or 3 dance steps at the beginning
of one of these tunes, but I was obviously hallucinating.
A very fast Foldin'
Money followed, but here not even half of the lyrics which appear on
the record were sung. He just kept saying 3 or 4 verses on and on, and
it was probably, for me, the first negative point of the show.
Now is the time
to say that I, and also my friends, sensed a strong smell of wine some
of the times that Mark was closest and with his mouth open. But since
there were people close to me who also had drank, I will not speak a
bad word of the Great Man. Although he had clearly heavily touched the
Kick The Can went
after Foldin', medley like, and Elena added a lot of backing vocals.
Mark seemed to be playing with her, singing the chorus, making her sing,
and then shutting up, just like little kids some times do, in order
to embarrass others. But truth be said she stood her ground magnificently,
and in a very dignified way. She was wearing a short dress, leaving
part of her shoulders bare, in black and white, with some spots pattern,
I think, and very pointed high heel shoes. And she is extremely beautiful,
adding a great visual element to the band. She looked very concentrated
and professional, like all the band, but when the keyboards started
to be less heard it seems her attention might have drifted out a bit,
The band was relaxed
and in a good mood, but Mark had by now long started looking for new
mikes everywhere, stealing them from Ben or from the drums set. (Does
he really forget where they are?!) I think he tries to make his voice
sound in as many different ways as possible, and sometimes he didn't
even use a mike, shouting or mumbling his lyrics to the audience, all
the time gesturing. The thing is that, in the process, he generates
a great deal of havoc and a lot of tangled wires. The microphone stand
spent almost the whole gig on the ground.
After those first
songs, things begun to Fall apart a lot. Mark would stop singing for
long periods, leaving the band pretty much to themselves, and that's
when the repetition would sometimes be just too much.
In Sparta FC, everyone
in the band sang, except for the bassist, and they seemed genuinely
pleased about it. Mark also would smile to them sometimes, although
he also tried to punch, jokingly, Ben and throw him things. In one of
the songs, the drum player lost one stick, and after a while Mark threw
it to the audience, cheerfully, which is something I never expected
to see. He almost didn't stare at the back of his hand, and at his nails,
as he'd done the last time I saw him.
In Big New Printz,
the beat was obviously abrasive, but the band played for maybe 5 minutes
till Mark decided (condescended?) to join them. He was busy hitting
some drums in a haphazard way, which nevertheless sounded great (reminding
me of Tempo House! ). Then he seemed to want the audience to sing, but
he didn't directed things to well, in my opinion. I even shouted the
"appreciated" bit a few times, after "he is not…..",
but just felt silly. After a while Mark gives the mike to the audience
and this guy starts yelling his lungs out in a way which fitted oddly
with the backbeat. I think the song lasted for more than 10 minutes,
There were no Paintwork,
Damo Suzuki or Ghost in my House, all songs I really love and were played
in the US tour, and at least half of the stuff was new to me. There
was a song which had the line "You are now descending (baby)"
sung a lot of times.
They played Mr.
Pharmacist, which was great, but midway he decided to turn down Ben's
amp, which I swear that actually fit well, even though it broke the
song in two. The bass and drums really kept it from falling apart, while
Pritchard would be thinking "what the hell am I gonna DO with this
guy?", trying not to look too pissed off.
Meanwhile the keyboards
would come in and out of the mix, but unfortunately out most of the
time. Mark smiled to her maybe twice and even took the care once to
pass his knuckles over the keys in a "let's-see-if-this-is-working-after-all"
sort of way, while Elena carefully tried do send him away, as you do
to an insisting child.
There was a lot
of really young people (I'm 27, so I guess it's relative, actually),
who seemed to be totally enjoying the gig. Some guy asked me wouldn't
it be great to go upstage and I said no. Sometimes it's just better
to watch. Oh, and my best friend spent all the time screaming his lungs
out almost histerically, but he only does it when he's really enjoying
the show. That's just his way.
After a short break
they returned for the first encore and played a good White Lightning
which really works live, even though it's not such a great song. Followed
by an hypnotic Dr. Buck's Letter, really abrasive once again, which
ended first with just bass and guitar playing the main riff over and
over, and finally just Ben, acting out the "Repetition in the music/And
we're never gonna loose it" philosophy perfectly.
The crowd shouted
even more than they had the first time, and for what seemed like a very,
very long time. They came and played a beautiful "Way Round"
which was a perfect way to end the evening. One of my favorite songs
from the more recent times, with Mark shouting endlessly and in a very
earnest way "I just can't find my way/ I just can't find my way…….Round".
The show didn't
last more than 80 minutes and I guess most people were disappointed,
at least the really hard core fans, and there seemed to be a lot of
them. They could have played a bit more! In the end, me and my friends
decided that this was probably the most professional gig he could pull
out, and I must confess that, since I went ready for anything, I was
very positively surprised. I just hope he'll keep these musicians for
some time more, because they are one of the best bands I've ever seen
live. And the keyboards should be heard all the time. I think they're
To sum it all up,
one of the best gigs I ever saw, although with its (lots of) ups and
downs, in a Fall sort of way, and I strongly advise everyone to see
these guys as soon as they can (before they all get sacked up? I mean,
it's just like football teams, isn't it? When you're starting to know
and love the players, "They" go and change it all up again,
As final comments
I'd like to say that it's probably a nightmare to play alongside with
that guy and it takes very special people to put up with it. Then again,
not many people at the end of their lives can say they've worked with
a genius and played a part in the making of some of the most vital and
beautiful music ever done.
So I reckon everything
balances, in the long run. Life Just Bounces.
List of songs
went more or less like this:
Behind the Counter
Green-Eyed Loco man
(?) Foldin' Money/ Kick the can
(something with a chorus that looked like "beat the box" ??)
Janet vs Johnny
Big New Printz
(and probably two or three more, which I don't know or can't remember)
Dr. Buck's Letter
thanks to João Maio Pinto for the ticket.
Manchester, October 1, 2003:
thanks to Gordon of Action Records for these
photos (and the setlist). According to a Fallnet post the encore was
White Lightning, they didn't play Sparta FC, and Green Eyed Loco Man was
preceded by Grooving With Mr. Bloe à la February Peel session.
thanks to David for scanning in this flyer from one
of the recent gigs. Click the image for a larger version.
yer, although I
barely manage to check the set, a nice slow one, that went on a bit
long (for me) that I hadn't heard before, and the usual set that they
seem to be doing at the mo, Prinz, Counter, Mere Pseud, (which I thought
was good ),Dr Bucks, but having said that. I was hugged and kissed by
so many people, i almost felt famous.. Kier, from dose, Jim was telling
us about the new album, Damon Gough (aka badly drawn boy).. Caroline
of course who was dancing her socks off, Rob Waite and his Missus, who
it was lovely to see (Biggest Library Yet) and lots of other people
there, Alan Wise promoting!! (early Factory promoter) the exotic John
Robb and his laydee, and my gorgeous boyfriend who I would have ran
a mile if he weren't with me..
Manchester, October 2, 2003:
to Jon for these three
I just got back
from the bier keller for the 2nd of the 2 manchester dates
I managed to get
in on the door ok - tshirt stand had 2G+2 and Panda etc cds for a fiver
each - so i picked up the latter mentioned later
the support group
was more "interesting" than the usual fare - some of the lyrics
were rather trite tho - and they swore too much
next was a visit
to the bar for a 1/2 litre of the germ beer - which was ok
backing tape of
Panda then started so everyone cheered and got ready for the show, and
waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited
for what felt like about 1/2 an hour while the PPP cd blared from the
speakers - not sure about other members of the audience but this did
make me suspect that the ensuing show would involve a very drunk marky
falling into drums etc. it also made me regret spending £5 on
the cd in my hand
fortunately i was
wrong - the band came out and sang a song about opening a box, then
telephone thing, then mr blow into locoman. everyone sounded tight and
mark looked to be in a really good mood - maybe new mrs smith doesnt
let him drink before performances? only negative point was the sound
which - especially during the first few songs - contained many bursts
of ear killing feedback
psued mag, bourgoise
town, janet, and sparta all followed and all were good - mr pharmacist
put in an suprise appearance and was cracking.
gig ended (for me)
with big prinz with mark passing the mic and ending up with 3 audience
members onstage yelling with him - usually this kind of shit gets on
my tits but mark seemed in a really laid back and smiley mood - it was
really nice to see the gnarly old bastard appear to enjoy being on stage.
i wasnt going to
go to this gig until i changed my mind at 8pm tonight and drove into
town tonight and even before it started i thought it would be a real
letdown - but i was wrong - it was great
(from the message board):
it was storming. Back to piss stinking cellars for the Fall. I thought
they'd be a stadium band by now. I haven't seen them for years (sorry)
but I did spend my 21st birthday watching the Kurious Oranj ballet in
it's original run (does that count? ) and faithfully attended the Frenz
Experiment promo at HMV Oxford St.
I was thrilled to
see the three-foot high stage knowing it would mean I could get right
in on the action. Last time I saw them at the Ritz (i think) they were
on a much higher pedestal. In fact technically the last time I saw M.E.S
was when he crossed at the lights in front of my car (post-pub no doubt)
as I was headed for Prestwich Tesco . Unfortunately or fortunately I
am now too old to slamdance (as it was know in the olden days - I believe
it is moshing now ) so had to make do with stage right and ear drilling
Yes, the support
band where iffy. All Happy Madchester Mondays but much too late, having
missed that boat. Why do people insist on talking/singing in American
accents and then surprising us with their broad Manc between-song banter.
Female singer was marvellous and the last song was very good where they
finally got their groove and the lyrics became less trite and quite
a drink! I suppose it was quite large but tasted very watery and low
in alcohol; plus it took four years to get served!
Ah, but The Fall.
What a powerhouse! Still got that bass and drums locked up tight and
some fabulous guitar work. Mark was as enigmatic as ever, it was great
to be three feet from that deadpan sneer. I sure he was staring into
Big New Prinz was
the highlight for me and I could have done without the stage invasion
but it was a good way to end the gig, I suppose. That over enthusiastic
guy with the big hair was in the queue outside and said he'd never seen
the Fall before (so he seemed to be unqualified to take over the entire
show!) maybe I got him mixed up with someone else.
Oh, and three more
songs would have made it perfect.
And I saw M.E.S
smile and I got 2G + 2 for a fiver!
First thing: someone
should tell the Bierkeller that gigs and glass don't
mix; it's one thing to be skidding around on abandoned Bud and Becks
(a mere £3 each) but when the stone floor is littered with enormous
steins, I start to get a bit edgy. Nevertheless, the place has a cool
underground sort of vibe and despite the multiple pillars seemed to
offer better visibility than the nearby Roadhouse.
As has already been
noted, ridiculously long wait for the band to take the stage following
the support. Seemed like the majority of PPP got played during the gap
and I didn't particularly like the meathead cheerleader bloke who kept
popping up encouraging us to shout for MES and referring to the ticket-holders
as "a bunch of losers." Band take the stage just before 11
and start with a new one ("open the box..." -sorry, not too
familiar with the new stuff.) MES comes on looking at least 200% better
than in the recent Uncut pics, dead energetic, nice clean hair and a
purposeful "Good evening, we are the Fall!". Worryingly, he
appeared to have his V-neck jumper the wrong way round but my mates
claim he was actually wearing a cravat. Not sure which is most unlikely.
Then Telephone Thing, never one of my favourites and generally quite
weak live but it sounded bloody good on the night and was one of the
very few songs in which you could discern the keyboards. After Bloe/Loco
Man I was slightly taken aback to hear Smith say "So nice to be
here, in the hometown" apparently without irony; only the second
time I've ever heard him address an audience with anything other then
After hearing the
tapes of recent gigs, I was half-dreading the stripped-down Behind the
Counter but the one thing the bootlegs don't convey is the sheer physicality
of that riff, like being repeatedly smacked in the face with a brick.
Fucking fantastic. And then, surreally, MES pipes up: "Trebor mints
are a minty bit stronger, stick em up your arse and they last a bit
longer" while the band launch into Bourgeois Town. Again, another
song I've never really 'got' but this time around something clicked.
Must be something in that German lager.
A run of new ones,
then a crowd-pleasing romp through Mere Pseud Mag Ed which eventually
descended into a glorious miasma of metallic guitar. Ace. Mr Pharmacist
came as a bit of a surprise, MES evidently singing the first line off-mike.
Janet and Johnny sounded good but was a curiously low-key end to the
A brief wait, then
back for Big New Prinz - a definite highlight. Mrs Smith was bopping
up and down, grinning like a loon at the beginning but soon caught herself
and regained her ice maiden poise. The mic-passing ended up with some
extremely studenty-looking students getting up on stage but rather than
removing them, MES gleefully screamed along, even getting into a huddle
with them at one point. A great moment and perhaps the correct one to
end the gig on but with a grim inevitability they somehow managed to
snatch defeat from the jaws of almost-certain victory.
For some reason,
the students got left on stage while MES slipped away and treated us
all to a karaoke Dr Buck's Letter. Quite why the band played on while
these obnoxious extroverts cavorted around is beyond me. They only seemed
to know "I lost my temper with a friend" so spent the rest
of the time reeling off old song titles. Brilliant. Unforgivably, to
my mind at least, one of them even announced "Good evening, we
are the Fall." How I restrained my self from launching one of those
two-pint steins, I'll never know. Twats.
A bloody shame the
gig should end like this because all was more than well beforehand.
I've never seen MES so happy on stage and in marked contrast to the
last couple of times I've seen the band, he was constantly spewing and
improvising lyrics, an extremely welcome change to the endless repetition
he had been getting into. A minimum of amp-fiddling, though it made
precious little difference through the Bierkeller's wretched sound system
- the vocals were often distorted, it took almost half the gig to silence
the feedback plus the keyboards and backing vocals were mixed far too
And they probably
could've stood a longer set; even with the gap before the encore and
the Buck travesty, they didn't manage sixty minutes. That said, I feel
more positive about the Fall than I have for about two years. I don't
think they're firing on all cylinders just yet but a couple of gigs
down the road they're gonna be awesome. Go see.
Boxoctosis / Telephone
Thing / Mr Bloe-Loco Man / Behind the Counter / Bourgeois Town / Contraflow
/ Ho(e)uston / Sparta FC / Mere Pseud / Pharmacist /Janet vs Johnny
/ Big New Prinz / Dr Buck
The Fall at Cool
(aka the Bierkeller) Manchester UK 02 October 2003.
I arrive in Manchester
a little later than planned, due to the second rate public transport
system. Met with friends in Wetherspoons and soon realised exactly what
I didn't like about this part of town. The clientele - attracted by
cheap booze - were a mixture of old codgers, young drunks, the odd pimp
+ floozy and some guys counting lots of money(?) I had on the wrong
shirt and should have worn Eminem or Slipnot rather than Chumbawamba......it
got some real drunken scowls.
We were un-nerved
by the atmosphere, had a swift drink and headed for
the door. Next into the Piccadilly Tavern to see if we could find Yousef.
This was BETTER..... we sat down and could relax without people glaring
at us. Had a couple of beers and then realised that it was 10:15 and
we should be heading for t'club. At Cool(yeh...right) they had the house
full signs up. I wondered if "The Fall - Sold Out" sign was
The bouncers were
making a bit on the side, by letting people pay even though all the
tickets had gone. This resulted in far too many people packed into the
tiny basement venue. As I came down the stairs into the room I started
to feel queezy. I had last visited this venue over 20 years ago on a
stag night and vowed never to return. It was then a popular German style
beer house complete with dodgy food, steins of beer and an Ooompah band.
I half expected to hear them as support to the Fall. That night I was
really ill from over consumption and my music appreciation took weeks
to recover from the blarting Bavarian polkas.
I took a deep breath
and stepped into the room. Little had changed, only they'd got rid of
a lot of wooden benches so that they could cram 'em in. I could hear
a support band racket coming from the stage but couldn't see a thing.
We couldn't even find the bar at first - it was that packed. I immediately
bumped into fellow Bombastards Simon & Yousef and we had a brief
conversation, and I headed to the bar expecting to get served. This
was almost impossible. What a crap venue for a gig. Five deep at the
bar, about 3 staff serving and crap acoustics if the support band was
anything to go by.
In a recent interview
MES said that he picked that venue because the students wouldn't go
there. Well that looked about right, the usual die-hard Fall fans, many
whom I now recognise. Took 20mins to get a beer, then the lights went
down and MES's Panda ramblings blarted out of the PA. We assumed this
was the "play on" for the band.... but it continued for ages.
The occasional irritated Fall fan jumped on stage and shouted through
the mic, which relieved the boredom. The poor sound guy couldn't see
what was happening. The ceiling is so low and the stage only about a
foot high - the bodies were packed in front of him. He was using his
mobile phone to find out when the band were coming on and what was happening
on stage...... chaotic. I noticed he put the phone down, smiled and
looked relieved towards the stage. THIS WAS IT and we pushed forward
over the broken bottles and glasses. The band were on and straight into
it - no messing. My first glimpse of the new Mrs Smith and I was surprised
that she looked OK - for him :o)
After around 3 mins
MES came on and mumbled "we are the Fall" and they were away.
A lively starter that I didn't recognise. Presume it was one of a few
songs from the new album. The sound at this point was awful and boomy
with occasional screeches of feedback. The acoustics in the place are
terrible and the sound engineer appeared to be having a real grapple
with the mixer. To compound things MES was doing his usual walk about
which was adding to the problems because the engineer couldn't see the
stage or MES to drop the monitor volume when Smith was pointing the
mic at it. On the plus side the band played good and tight and MES looked
healthier than I've seen him for some time. Elenor must be doing something
I'm not familiar
with this band line-up. Obviously not Jim on bass, but I may have seen
the guitarist before. The drummer, who I couldn't see, had a great powerful
style - which was a highlight for me. Elenor looked deadpan and inscrutable
throughout and the keyboards were VERY low in the mix - a sensible option,
Second up was a
super funky Telephone Thing. A surprise for me as this is the first
time I can remember hearing this song live. This was a good version.
The sound was beginning to get a little better, but things didn't improve
drastically. I don't think any blame can be laid with the band/engineer
or PA for this. It was just a sh*t sounding venue with too many bodies
in the way. At the back of the room it sounded like a miked up ghetto
Some songs appeared
that I didn't know but we were treated to a cracking
version of Bourgeois Town, which was really fast compared to the album.
Mr Pharmacist was rocky and well received. Nice to hear Other Side of
the Counter and the punky football chants of Sparta FC(a first for me).
Groovin with Mr B and Loco Man were also good versions.
I was just getting
warmed up when BANG, it was all over. A short 50 minute set. The band
came back and I went to catch a quiet moment at the bar. When I got
back MES had tired of Big Prinz and handed the mic over to the audience.
A few got up on stage and we had a Fall karaoke. Smith left 'em to it,
and to their credit the band played on relentless over the various grunts
and groans. It was amazing that they even seemed to know which part
of the song they were in. I'd completely lost track. I thought I saw
a flicker of concern cross Elenor's brow when the stage was getting
packed, but she kept pressing those silent keys like a trouper. The
band even started up an extra(bonus?) karaoke song to give the punters
another crack. Can you imagine this at an REM gig. Stipe vacating the
stage and punters queuing up to sing Loosing My Religion or Shiny Happy
People with the band. Very liberating..... more bands should do this.
Despite the howls
for more, that was it. An hour tops. I'm just glad I didn't get into
Cool earlier, I'd had enough of the place by that time.
Summary is sh*t
venue, sh*t service(rip off prices), sh*t sound but amazingly an enjoyable
performance. Band sounded good and well rehearsed, MES looked good and
was on form with all the growling and hand gestures etc.. If the new
songs were anything to go by, the next album could be interesting.
Everytime I see
the Fall now, its like seeing a tribute band. You just go to see MES
and whoever else is in the band doesn't matter. I remember(ooooh the
good old days) when I used to look forward to seeing Scanlon/Hanley/Wolstencroft
& co and thinking that they played so cool. I am a musician and
I'm not being unreasonable when I say that I could play in the Fall
now, and no-one would know any difference - except me, as I couldn't
stand the pay cut!!! I mean no disrespect to the current musicians but
it never used to be like that. I used to come home from a Fall gig and
KNOW that I could never play the way they did, because it
was so special to the Fall. Smith's policy of rapid hire/fire has resulted
in a diluted dumbed down Fall. These guys know that in 3 months they
may be back playing Aerosmith covers.
Maybe it will all
finish up as Karaoke, with no band and MES ranting over some well prepared
arty backing tracks, which is funnily enough just how it sounded from
the back of the venue.
Who's he gonna punch
Centre, Leeds, October 8, 2003:
tremendous. an un-nervingly
jovial MES shone throughout after an initial verbal attack aimed at
a poor sound guy due to his "Norman Collier-esque" mic problems.
undeterred the band ripped through excellent versions of boxoctosis,
mountain energei, sparta fc, loco man and a particularly menacing contraflow.
roll on oct.27th. other highlights included an impressive telephone
thing, new big prinz, topped only by an encore of damo suzuki and a
stunning way round. even when caught off guard with some heckler announcing
he'd been persuaded to buy a vauxhall corsa MES chuckled, stopped the
band and retorted in his own inimitable way before ploughing on into
a most enjoyable set. things look well in camp fall. no doubt this line-up
will be fired before the album is released.
(from memory) boxoctosis/telephone
thing/loco man/behind the counter/mountain energei/foldin'-kick can/sparta
fc/contraflow/mere pseud/pharmacist/janet and johnny/new big prinz/damo/way
Indeed, a very good
gig. The Irish Centre was very sparsley populated compared to previous
gigs there, with a disappointingly low number of 'young' people.
The gig started
slowly, and only really took off with Behind The Counter. As seems to
be the case recently, they sounded a damn sight better on the hard songs,
such as Mere Pseud Mag Ed and Big New Prinz, than the slower ones.
I had the great
pleasure post gig of meeting the admirable Jeff Higgott. For those who
were there he was the tall, bald, short beard bloke stood at the front
in a red fleece whilst I was making slanderous comments about Rio. He
was very self-effacing about his contributions to the discography etc,
and seemed like a really nice fella.
I also chatted to
the support band Being 747 (as they removed their PA - natch) who were
just dead chuffed to have supported the Fall. Worth seeing if you get
I have a set list
at home - I'll post the contents later. Oh and the t-shirt stall had
some leaflets advertising the new LP, complete with cover art. If it's
not been done yet, I can scan and post it.
No wonder The Fall's
output has been patchy of late, MES has obviously had his mind on other
book reviews (there are lots of earlier ones in recent editions
of the Fall News)
a review of The Fall and Hip Priest
from the Independent on Sunday,
Sept. 21, 2003 (a scan of hard copy); or you can read it on the Independent's
(from the message board):
I've read the Mick
Middles/M.E. Smith book "The Fall" and here's my initial thoughts:
Probably the best
of the 3 books.
Not so much a traditional
auto/biography, more a selection of anecdotes and observations that
flits from era to era-
For example a description
of The fall recording the recent Peel session is followed by a story
regarding Kay Carroll which in turn is followed by a Shiftwork- era
anecdote- then it's back to 2003.
If you have read
his New Order book- he describes the recording of "Shellshock"
and his various meetings with the band - this book is predominately
in that style.
A better selection
of photographs including the young M.E.S- postcards sent to his mum/in
the pub with his dad etc.
A lot more historical
info from Mark regarding the forming of The Fall and his philosophy
behind the band, some of the usual stuff but also a lot of new info
that doesn't sound overblown or exaggerated.
Quite a bit on his
family life which in punctuated with a great interview with Mark's mum.
A nice selection
of lyrics throughout the book.
Treats all eras
and members of The Fall pretty much evenly: a newcomer would have no
idea that Hex or Nations are considered "classics"
I thought the Simon
Ford book was pretty good but more for a newer fan.
This book has the
detail and occasional oddness that i think a lot of people will like.
(from the message board):
My twopenneth on
Mick's "The Fall"...
It's fair to say
that MES *is* The Fall, and while this is the foundation of Middles'
book, he also sees Mark as something quite seperate to the band at the
same time. You'd be surprised how little The Fall feature in this book
- aside from the occasional songs cut 'n' pasted from the Lyrics Parade
(even down to the unexplained footnote numbers), there's precious little
about the band's music, or songs. Many of the most important Fall songs
go unmentioned - no Free Range, no Totally Wired, no Paintwork etc.
And while Simon Ford's book really goes to town on finding info on former
band members, this is very much MES's book and anything that looks vaguely
like digging up the past band member-wise is quickly dismissed as crappy
This is definitely
a book for the fan. Newbies, I suspect, would be put off by the swathes
of the band's history and recorded output that goes unmentioned. That
said, the new interviews with MES are at times brilliant and very entertaining
as usual, when Mick Middles isn't serialising the most trivial events
in a novelistic style or letting his own views seep through (I dare
say you find out more about Mick than about MES in this book). Touching
to find out that Mark has been doing a lot better since marrying Elena,
while it's encouraging to see that his worldview remains as unique and
controversial as ever. And the interview with MES's mum is welcome.
Still, I'd buy it
alongside Simon Ford's more conventional Hip Priest, because the two
books compliment each other well and rarely overlap. With HP, you'll
find out loads about The Fall's records and personnel, while Middles'
book completely deals with MES's side of things. Funnily enough, reading
the two books together makes for a total Fall experience - read the
evidence, and have a bleedin' guess for yourself.
A couple of items
from October's The Wire: a review of Simon
Ford's Hip Priest, and the PBL
/ Leeds dvd.
was a Fall Tribute Night at the Cube
Cinema in Bristol on Friday, Sept. 26, with Nought
and the Country Teasers scheduled to play, and they hoped
to show some Fall video on the big screen.
4 Princess Row
tel (0117) 9074190
The Country Teasers
played at the Mute / Hip Priest party in London on Sept. 19 - their set
included covers of Papal Visit, Pat Trip Dispenser, and Mollusc in Tyrol.
Bending's wonderful The
Fall Multimedia Project website has a couple of clips from the This
Morning with Richard Not Judy Show (featuring Fall fan Stewart
Lee), in response to this
thread on the message board).
with MES, ca. 1997.
continuing saga: MES in "Masked and Anonymous" - possibly:
This is the latest
news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.
If you have anything
to say, you can mail Stefan, but
you can't mail the FallNet mailing list direct anymore. To subscribe to
FallNet, send mail to:
interview, book reviews, "No Place Like It" transcript, a few
old press clippings, Bingo Master's 25th anniversary, War Against Intelligence
cd, Bootleg Box Set review, book launch party, Masked and Anonymous, Jack
magazine, The Lovers on tour, Johnny Cash
18aug03 Prindle int. w/Ben, Hip Priest reviews, Live at Phoenix
cd, War Against Intelligence cd, Brix int. 1994, Lovers single, web-enabled
22jul03 US tour reports (second half: Cambridge
> Dallas), New Yorker cartoon, Simon Spencer RIP, "Idiot Joy Show,"
Words of Expectation review
01jul03 US tour reports (first leg, thru
Cleveland), PBL dvd & User Guide reviews, Jim Watts interviews John
French, 1999 MES int., Voiceprint clearance sale
19jun03 Canada, ATP cancelled, the fall
uk, Fall books, Damo vs. USA, MCR's greatest frontman, Meltzer, Bad Man
Wagon, Adult Net debacle, comp reviews, Brix '87int., MES '82 int., "Idiot
27may03 PBL/Leeds DVD reviews, Aarhus gig,
great 1981 MES interview, Smiths Week, Woog Riots tribute, Sanctuary CDs,
Rubber Banana Fall radio show
29apr03 ATP, PoSR review, Peel Session
& Step Forward CDs, Made in the NW, Jeremy Vine show, bits
28mar03 Jim Watts sacked, Country on the
Click details, Peel Session, Turkey gig, 85 & 88 gig photos, Luz's
"The Joke" comic, Pascal LeGras new work, MES T-shirt, Fall
on emusic, Fall Tattooing rip
24feb03 news about books, Mojo top 50,
Claus Fall guitar, Beggars vids, Corsa ad link, 9feb83 + 88oct8 photos,
'78 So It Goes clip, Hanley bros interview, several early music press
scans, other bits
9jan03 Independent interview, Early Singles,
Listening In, UK chart placing history, Razor Cuts, Pascal LeGras video,
Record Collector, ring tones, Blue Orchids CDs, Peel's Fabriclive
4dec02 Electric Ballroom gig, Virgin Radio,
Fall vs. 2003, MES death row picks, Conway's wallpaper
8nov02 PPP review and lyrics, Dave Harrop,
Manchester Online soap opera
15oct02 UK gig reports, 1983 photos, Fall
20sept02 loads of upcoming releases, jigsaws,
Vauxhall advert, Mark Prindle int., couple of music press scans, Slates
movie clip, Fall Tattooing
23aug02 singles box and Totally Wired reviews,
Rocking Vicar, lots of old music press scans
3july02 2G+2 reviews, 6FM mp3, Bourgeois
13jun02 2G+2, Wire 25th anniversay piece,
custom Fall gig, PDFs of four old articles
16may02 Blackburn, London, ATP gig reviews,
BBC 6FM, Sydney 1990 int., French cartoon
19apr02 US tour cancelled, Mojo article,
Select (June 91), bits & pieces
19mar02 Euro tour reviews, Record Collector
interview., Wire review, new Fall discog., misc.
13feb02 comp results, Athens review, Bournemouth
13jan02 Timekode, Pan, bad German translations,
NME 2/25/89 interview
02jan02 album reviews, ancient Usenet refs
12dec01 MCR gig reviews, album reviews,
28nov01 mammoth US tour edition
13nov01 first batch of AYAMW reviews, London
Forum gig reports
5nov01 Euro gig reports, Knitting Factory
19oct01 UK gig reports, studybees interview
30sep01 tour / booking details, 1979 fanzine
9sep01 not much
28aug01 Flitwick single, 82/83 gig pics
31may01 Dublin pics, Cash for Questions, Guardian
29apr01 IR, UK gig reviews
9apr01 NL gig reviews
3mar01 Dublin gig, Invisible Jukebox
28jan01 World Bewitched details
1jan01 some ace Castlefield pics
19dec00 more reviews
1dec00 tour reviews, crap interviews
10nov00 Unutterable reviews
21oct00 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy
11oct00 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
12sep00 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
22aug00 Portugal, Manchester gigs
9aug00 bits & pieces
23jul00 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details,
Triple Gang reviews
9jul00 few bits
20jun00 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow,
Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
30may00 LA2 reviews
22may00 few old LP reviews
2may00 bits & pieces
24apr00 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
8apr00 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other
26mar00 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar
interview (plus others)
14mar00 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
24feb00 Past Gone Mad details
13feb00 few bits & pieces
30jan00 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
20jan00 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
10jan00 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc
older news: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999